Sunday, March 3, 2013

Reggio Emilia: The Hundred Languages of Children

This photo came from the New York Times article, "The Art of Distraction", illustrated by Rutu Modan. 

     In the United States, the traditional classroom consists of a teacher who is the "Giver of Knowledge." The children are empty buckets, waiting to be filled with new information. They sit in desks, either loving school because they are good at memorizing information and taking tests, or hating school because they are not visual/auditory learners. 

     In the preschool setting, teachers plan themes based on holidays, seasons, and more recently, the new "cute" thing they found on Pinterest. (Guilty!) The children's interests and passions are of little importance. After all, the teachers are in charge, right? We also feel pressure from lawmakers, directors, and parents to get them KINDERGARTEN READY. Some preschools even proclaim to be "Getting your children ready for college!"

     The Reggio Emilia Approach has a different attitude about learning. The image of the child is that children are capable of extraordinary things! They are viewed as competent and naturally curious. The Reggio teacher understands that each child enters their classroom full of knowledge of the world around them. They are full of potential, and are able to construct  their own knowledge. They are active participants in their community of learners. (Gandini, 2010)

     Please watch this short video, entitled, The Hundred Languages of Children. You may read along below.  This poem, written by Loris Malaguzzi, is very touching. It reminds me that we as teachers are able to provide an environment where children can take the lead. Children can construct their own learning, and we are there as partners to facilitate this process!

The child

is made of one hundred.
The child has
A hundred languages
A hundred hands
A hundred thoughts
A hundred ways of thinking
Of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
Ways of listening of marveling of loving
A hundred joys
For singing and understanding
A hundred worlds
To discover
A hundred worlds
To invent
A hundred worlds
To dream
The child has
A hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
But they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
Separate the head from the body.
They tell the child;
To think without hands
To do without head
To listen and not to speak
To understand without joy
To love and to marvel
Only at Easter and Christmas
They tell the child:
To discover the world already there
And of the hundred
They steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
That work and play
Reality and fantasy
Science and imagination
Sky and earth
Reason and dream
Are things
That do not belong together
And thus they tell the child
That the hundred is not there
The child says: NO WAY the hundred is there--

Loris Malaguzzi

Founder of the Reggio Approach

#child #dreams

I challenge you as an educator/parent to give children a bigger role in their learning. 

Happy playing!

Works Cited

Gandini, L. (2010, September 13). Learning Materials Work. Retrieved from Values and Principles of the  

          Reggio Emilia Approach:

Malaguzzi, L. (2006). The Hundred Languages of Childhood. Retrieved from Reggio Kids Childcare



  1. Thank you for posting this beautiful and important poem! The 100 Languages are engaged every day at Opal School -- a public K-5 school and preschool inspired by the municipal pre-primary schools of Reggio Emilia. Also see Ochoa Elementary School in Tucson, AZ and the Butler University Lab School in Indianapolis -- also Reggio Inspired public schools!

  2. Brilliant post Gina, & reminds me why I felt so drawn to your blog in the first place. Thanks for the reminder too, to follow the children's lead, it is easy to forget in the day to day running of a busy class.


Thanks for you comment! Happy playing!

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