B’tzelem Elohim in Reggio Emilia

Posted on 05/24/2019 @ 01:00 PM

Judaism teaches that every one of us is created B’tzelem Elohim- in G!d’s image. How can early childhood educators live out this value? In Reggio Emilia, Italy, they demonstrated it to us through their unique approach to early childhood education.  

This past week, 71 early childhood educators working in Jewish settings met in Reggio Emilia, Italy, to explore the foundational principles of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. These dedicated professionals came from the US, Israel, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. Eleven of the group came from South Florida- Temple Beth Sholom Innovative School Foundation Level, Temple Judea Margaux Early Childhood School, MAR JCC Bronson Early Childhood Development, and CAJE’s Director of Early Childhood Education, Joy Schandler.   

B’tzelem Elohim is a foundational principle of Reggio Emilia. Though they use different language, it is clear that Reggio Emilia educators value and respect children. This approach recognizes that children are capable and have abundant talents and abilities.  They have voices that must be heard. 

Reggio Emilia early childhood educators can be seen actively listening to and observing the children, whether the children are expressing themselves through words, body language, or various arts modalities. Teachers document their observations in order to reflect on the children’s learning. The teachers decide how the curriculum will flow based on the valued and respected questions and interests of the children.  

When we see the Tzelem Elohim-  G!d’s image in children- we honor their voices and nurture their spirits.  The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, at its core, it always intentional and purposeful

CAJE is grateful to the Robert Russell Foundation’s grant to our Early Childhood Department at CAJE that allowed us to provide subsidies for educators to participate in this intensive professional development experience. 

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