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Application of the Reggio Emilia approach to environments in the United States: A case study

Roberta L Nelson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore and describe the facets of the environment gleaned from visitors to Reggio Emilia, Italy, that could be successfully implemented in the United States. The case was the early childhood centers in the United States implementing ideas about the Reggio approach to the environment. For the data collection, I interviewed ten key individuals who have traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy, and are in the process of implementation of Reggio ideas about the environment in the United States. They were also experts in the field of early childhood education. I also observed nine early childhood centers that have implemented Reggio Emilia ideas about the environment. Additionally, I relied on my observations and field notes from a recent study tour to Reggio Emilia. Finally, I reviewed documents including identity books, slides and photographs of the early childhood centers, individual school videos, lecture notes from speeches by leaders and preschool teachers, and documents from Delegation Days. Sampling was purposeful due to the importance of having seen the centers in Reggio and working on implementation in the United States. Interviews were audio taped or emailed and transcribed. Data analysis which was on-going consisted of transcribing interviews, encoding, determining broad themes, and triangulation. The study was given IRB approval. Findings were validated by consent forms, member checks, and an audit trail. The findings confirmed that there were three areas of implementation that were being successfully accomplished. They were the areas of the image of the child, the relationship building, and the physical space. While all three areas were important, the first was fundamental because the other two could only exist in a superficial way without a strong image of the child. The results of this study add to the literature on the implementation of Reggio Emilia ideas about the environment in early childhood settings in the United States. In essence, this study has the opportunity to improve early childhood education for all children by improving the learning environment. ^

Subject Area

Education, Early Childhood

Recommended Citation

Nelson, Roberta L, "Application of the Reggio Emilia approach to environments in the United States: A case study" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9977007.