Recipient of a Five-Year Grant
ECDC is a recipient of a five-year grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and is now a participant in the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI). The founders of JECEI studied early childhood education models and chose the Reggio Emilia approach as the best means of achieving the dual goals of high-quality education and family involvement. As ECDC enters its first year of JECEI, we will become the first Reggio-inspired early childhood program in the South Hills. We benefit by receiving intensive consultation and professional development from mentors in the fields of Reggio Emilia educational philosophy.
What is Reggio Emilia?
Reggio Emilia is a city of northern Italy, where after World War II the community was hungry for democracy. In a splurge of creative energy, parents and educators collaborated to create preschools where children could develop multi-faceted potential. The schools reflected a commitment to education as an ongoing process of exploration. The Reggio philosophy was not a departure from early childhood philosophers such as Jean Piaget and John Dewey. Instead the philosophy built on these founders of early childhood education, whose efforts were to create a school environment where love of learning could flourish continue in Italy and across the world. The Reggio Emilia approach in fact has had a strong impact on early education in the United States. Certainly it has had a strong presence in Pittsburgh, including at the Cyert Center of Carnegie Mellon and the Jewish Community Center of Squirrel Hill.
Reggio Emilia at ECDC
The pace of change at ECDC will be deliberately slow. The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based on collaboration among children, teachers and families. The single change that families will notice is that effort is made to include many thoughts and perspectives as we learn from one another. Feedback from the children will influence the curriculum. Rather than planning far ahead, the curriculum will evolve based on the children’s questions, interests and ideas. This process supports their curiosity and learning.
The daily schedule, structure and values of ECDC remain the same. Our teachers will continue to provide an environment based on mutual respect and the joy of learning.