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Reggio Mondays: The Hundred Languages

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What exactly does the phrase “One hundred languages of children” actually mean?  This phrase is used quite often in the Reggio Emilia philosophy to express the many different ways that children express their thinking, theories, ideas, learning, and emotions.  No two children learn the same way and the Reggio Emilia approach understands this and provides different ways to reach children and help them succeed to their upmost potential.

Reggio Emilia teachers provide children with a wide range of materials and experiences so that children are able to think, construct, negotiate, develop and symbolically express their thoughts and feelings in ways that they are most comfortable doing. By providing these many different materials and experiences, teachers, parents and children can better understand each other. These different languages can include drawing, paint, clay, wire, natural and recycled materials, light and shadow, dramatic play, music and dance. They can also include expression with words through stories, poems, or drawings. All of these different ways are considered part of the one hundred and more languages of learning. Teachers often encourage children to represent their ideas on a particular topic in multiple languages and find that when they do this they are best able to support children in their understanding and learning.

The following is a poem created by Loris Malaguzzi that sums up what the Hundred Languages of Children really means to educators that follow the Reggio Emilia approach.

 

The child

 

is made of one hundred.

The child has

A hundred languages

A hundred hands

A hundred thoughts

A hundred ways of thinking

Of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred

Ways of listening of marveling of loving

A hundred joys

For singing and understanding

A hundred worlds

To discover

A hundred worlds

To invent

A hundred worlds

To dream

The child has

A hundred languages

(and a hundred hundred hundred more)

But they steal ninety-nine.

The school and the culture

Separate the head from the body.

They tell the child;

To think without hands

To do without head

To listen and not to speak

To understand without joy

To love and to marvel

Only at Easter and Christmas

They tell the child:

To discover the world already there

And of the hundred

They steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:

That work and play

Reality and fantasy

Science and imagination

Sky and earth

Reason and dream

Are things

That do not belong together

And thus they tell the child

That the hundred is not there

The child says: NO WAY the hundred is there–

Loris Malaguzzi

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