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. In its third year of JECEI, ECDC is 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 a better life for its children. In a splurge of creative energy, parents and educators collaborated to create preschools where children could develop their potential. The schools reflected a commitment to education as an ongoing process of investigation. Over the last 60 years, Reggio Emilia has become perhaps the only city in the world that specializes in Early Childhood Education.
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 the joy of learning could flourish. The Reggio Emilia approach in fact has had a strong impact on early education in the United States and across the globe. 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 Reggio Emilia philosophy is based on collaboration among children, teachers and families. ECDC families will notice our effort to include many thoughts and perspectives as we learn from one another. Rather than planning far ahead, the teachers thoughtfully offer interesting materials and challenges and observe how the children respond. Teachers then make further plans by building on those responses. Curriculum becomes a never ending series of interlocking pieces. An entire span of skill development is embedded in everything we do. We stand by our guiding principle: Children will acquire and apply literacy and numeracy skills in meaningful ways and for real purposes. Our collaborative approach builds relationships, engagement and joy of learning.