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© Copyright 2020 Winnetka Public School Nursery

All Rights Reserved. 

1155 Oak Street

Winnetka IL 60093

What is Reggio Emilia?

The WPSN curriculum is inspired by the renowned Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy.  At WPSN, this means that several key Reggio concepts are integrated into each classroom to create the most engaging and empowering learning environment for your children:

Curriculum is individualized to each child’s developmental needs and interests.  WPSN’s talented and experienced teachers modify their lesson plans every single day, based on the needs and interests of the children in each class.  This innovative teaching approach is highly effective in promoting cognitive development, because it meets children where they’re at, while at the same time centering the curriculum on themes and activities that the children truly care about. Delivering developmentally-appropriate curricula ensures that children grow socially, emotionally, and cognitively throughout the school year.

Play inspires a life-long love of learning.   While WPSN’s Reggio Emilia approach is play-based, it is differentiated from traditional play-based preschools because the play is intentionally guided by the teachers, who are trained to be astute observers of learning opportunities.  For example, one day a child created a paper airplane and started flying it around the classroom.  The other kids were so excited that they all began making paper airplanes.  Noting this interest, the teachers guided the children’s play and exploration into several projects on aviation, including guest speakers, in which children explored how planes fly, what airports are and how they work, who works in airports and planes. Their exploration culminated in building fantastic multi-media airplanes of their own. This type of project-based learning gives children the opportunity to dive deeply into subject matter that they are curious about, engaging their critical-thinking skills, fine and gross motor skills, and creativity through play.

Teachers work in teams.  This means that there are two teachers in each classroom, plus a teaching assistant.  This low student-teacher ratio provides children with expert, individualized attention.  Teaching teams collaborate on the curriculum and observe each child’s development to determine the best teaching approaches for each child, as well as the classroom as a whole.


The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy based on the image of the child, and of human beings, as possessing strong potentials for development and as a subject of rights who learns and grows in the relationships with others.

This global educational project, which is carried forth in the Municipal Infant-toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and has inspired other schools all over the world, is based on a number of distinctive characteristics: the participation of families, the collegial work of all the personnel, the importance of the educational environment, the presence of the atelier and the figure of the atelierista, the in-school kitchen, and the pedagogical coordinating team.

Focusing on the centrality of the hundred languages belonging to every human being, in the atelier spaces young children are offered daily opportunities to encounter many types of materials, many expressive languages, many points of view, working actively with hands, minds, and emotions, in a context that values the expressiveness and creativity of each child in the group.

Natural classroom materials encourage open-ended exploration.  WPSN classrooms are filled with art and toys made from natural materials and objects from nature. The carefully-considered aesthetic of each classroom encourages children to explore their surroundings, and engage with materials in an open-ended way. As such, wooden blocks can be used to construct a full-service hotel and restaurant, water tables become a space for testing buoyancy, and overhead projectors create an opportunity for shadow play. The classroom environment stimulates creativity, collaborative play with peers, and endless discovery.