Accoglienza. A welcoming embrace. This was one of the first things our hosts in Reggio Emilia said to our eager and attentive study group on our very first day. I learned quickly however, that accoglienza is not just a word; not just a standard greeting. It was reflective of our overall experience with the educators and people of Reggio Emilia. It is also a concept that is embedded within the curricular approach, and reflective of the values and philosophy of how to work with families and the community.
The educators of Reggio describe it as an act of responsibility; one that begins long before children enroll in their schools. A system of people relating to one another is embedded into the school and community culture, and this notion welcomes families in as they create opportunities for connection. This process is also reciprocal. Families become a member of the school family, not just an extension of it.
Teacher and Child/Family. Architect and Educators. School and Community. The fundamental element on which the schools of Reggio are grounded is relationships in context. As one of our presenters noted, “One can’t understand the schools of a place without understanding the place itself.” A school is not just about what happens inside its four walls. It’s about its people. It’s about its community.
What can we learn from this philosophy? How might we embed accoglienza within the contexts of our own schools and communities?