All You Need to Know about Reggio Emilia Parenting: The Pedagogy of Listening

Reggio Emilia Approach
Last updated on 7 Nov 2023

There have been many pedagogical philosophies over the years. Some have come and gone but a brief moment, while others have stood the test of time.

One of the most noteworthy philosophies belonging to the latter category is the Reggio Emilia approach. Named from the Italian city in which it came about, this approach is among the most progressive and child-centred ones to have ever seen light. 

Now, there are many hallmarks of the Reggio Emilia Approach. These range from experiential learning to learning through open ended play and inquiry based experiences.

Today, however, we’ll focus on one of the most important of them: The Pedagogy of Listening to young children.

What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?

Let’s start by understanding what the Reggio Emilia approach is.

The Reggio Emilia approach is one where children are seen as active, capable learners who possess their own ideas and interests. This is not an approach where learning is imposed on children from educators. In the Reggio Emilia Approach, children are at the centre of their own learning experiences.

This is why self-directed learning is valued so highly in this approach. It respects each child’s agency, abilities, unique thoughts and feelings. 

This is also a holistic approach where all aspects of development are highly valued. As such, you will see Reggio Emilia practitioners scaffolding children’s critical-thinking abilities while also encouraging them to exercise skills like creativity, innovation and collaboration.

The Pedagogy of Listening: A Fundamental Concept in Reggio Emilia-Inspired Parenting

So, why is listening such a crucial component of Reggio Emilia-Inspired parenting? 

This is an approach where children are active, central participants in their growth. They possess their own notions, feelings and voices.

And this is why listening is necessary. When you truly listen to children, you give them a voice, thus allowing them to take an active role in their own growth.

In addition, the process of listening is the foundation of all learning relationships. When children are listened to, they also listen in turn, enabling both communication and dialogue. They become more receptive to questions, are more likely to indulge their own curiosity, and gain a wider perspective of the world.

The type of listening called for in Reggio Emilia-inspired parenting is empathetic and active. It strives to help the listener better understand the way children think, question, and conclude.

This therefore involves some element of learning for the parent or educator too. By listening to children and drawing insights from what they say, teachers can evolve their methods and create new ways of guiding young children. 

The type of listening called for in Reggio Emilia is empathetic and active. It strives to help the listener better understand the way children think, question, and conclude. By listening to children and drawing insight from what they say, teachers can evolve their methods and create new ways of guiding young children.

Big hearts, small voices – listening with love

Here are some voices of our children based on the story “The Rabbit Listened” by Cori Doerrfeld.

The Benefits of the Pedagogy of Listening

There are many benefits to embracing a pedagogy of listening with young ones. A lot of them come from the fact that the listening called for here is one that respects the speaker and promotes constant exchange of ideas. Through that, it opens the door for collaborative learning.

Let’s go over the benefits of this aspect of the Reggio Emilia-inspired parenting below.

1. Empowering Children

Listening to children gives them a voice. It recognises their power and the role they play in their own development.

This empowers children by telling them from the outset that what they think, feel, and do matters. It sets a positive tone for their early educational experiences and builds their self-esteem early on. 

2. Creating Strong Relationships

When children feel heard, they also feel valued. This encourages them to create stronger, more trusting relationships with those who care for them, and these same relationships can support them as they grow.

3. Encouraging Curiosity and Creativity

One of the best things about being willing to listen to children, especially about the things that interest them, is that it gives them positive feedback on what they discover or create. 

This positive feedback encourages them to continue being curious as well as creative. As a result, children never close their eyes to the wonders of the world and its many possibilities.

4. Enhancing Communication Skills

This is only natural, as most things are improved with practice. By listening to children, we are indirectly encouraging them to communicate, which means we also give them more chances to improve their ability to communicate and express themselves independently.

5. Promoting Critical Thinking

As part of the pedagogy of listening, adults are encouraged to ask open-ended questions and use queries to stimulate learning. This leads to opportunities for children to exercise their critical-thinking skills and exploratory as well as experimental urges. 

6. Supporting Emotional Development

Reggio Emilia-inspired parenting is holistic, therefore as part of the pedagogy of listening, parents and teachers are encouraged to listen to children’s feelings as well as their ideas. 

This is a good way to show children how to work through emotions in healthy ways, including through peaceful self-expression and dialogue. 

Discover the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early-Years Learning for your child now.

Reggio Emilia-inspired parenting can be a hugely beneficial approach to early childhood education and development. The simple act of listening can empower your child in many ways as well as strengthen your connection with them.

If you’d like to learn more about the Reggio Emilia approach and how it can be applied to learning in the early years, speak with us. At Lily Valley Preschool, the pedagogy of listening is practised daily, along with several other pedagogies central to the Reggio Emilia approach.

Register for a school tour with us so you can see how a Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum works in a preschool setting. You can also explore our specialised facilities – like our specialised play ateliers – which are sure to be a hit with your child!