Reggio Emilia, Emergent Curriculum: Best-of

We believe our tailored Reggio Emilia and Emergent Curriculum approach to early childhood education truly is unique. Our program has great depth and value and is a big part of who we are and why we exist. The success stories of our graduates is testament to our program and is a source of great happiness and pride.


Kids Really Are Unique

It all starts at the beginning! Our approach is founded on a law of nature: As with DNA, every child, (happily) really is unique. Their uniqueness may be readily apparent; may reveal itself naturally over time; or may even have to be gently coaxed to appear. But knowing these, often subtle, traits of our children is essential. To see a child start to bloom is one of life’s joys. And the strongest blooms benefit from careful grounding. Our teachers understand each unique child intimately and have the skills and experience to help empower the individual children to develop confidence, skills and knowledge. This means our teachers need unstructured time so they can devote attention to each child’s different needs. The compelling question for us is how to provide a blend of both formal and more free-style learning? After all, we are dealing with little ones here, not machines! Our solution is to provide a tailored, semi-structured program incorporating a hybrid Reggio Emilia and Emergent Curriculum. This encourages a well-rounded education.
Click here to see a Sample Curriculum

So ScuttleBugs Molds Itself to the Kids Not the Other Way Round

ScuttleBugs has adopted a Reggio Emilia approach to education, and our teachers incorporate techniques and strategies from this philosophy in their daily lessons and activities. While Reggio is based on a comprehensive philosophy, it is basically a foundational approach to the education of a child by defining how we perceive them interacting with the world.

These relationships are:

  • Each child is a protagonist promoter, collaborator, and communicator
  • The teacher is considered a co-learner and collaborator (not just an instructor)
  • The environment is considered as a “third teacher”
  • Parents are viewed as partners, collaborators and advocates for their children.

The guiding principles are:

  • Children must have some control over the direction of their learning
  • Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing;
  • Children must be able to explore their relationship with other children and with material items in their world Cooperation is fundamental
  • As life-long learners ourselves, we capitalize on the team’s collective experience and studies, ultimately supporting our whole-child approach.

This child driven approach is a very strong, favorable element of the Emergent Curriculum. After all, kids are more likely to be engaged and perceive learning as FUN, when the topic is something they choose and can relate to: trains, family, weather, nature – the wonder of their life and the world around them!

To bring this all together in a comprehensive framework where specific academics can be taught and children assessed, we employ the Emergent curriculum. Now we can clearly and precisely define what has to be learned and a path to attain that learning, and weave this into the Reggio child-driven approach.

Simply put: we set class-specific developmental standards (the “what” of the syllabus) along with monthly and weekly themes, and, under the guidance of our teachers, the children provide the context (the “how”).

Our PreK class was learning about the 5 senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. One of the planned lesson activities involved a “taste test” (hands-on experience) to explore and identify salty, bitter, sour, sweet and savory flavor sensations. We also experimented with holding our noses closed to discover how removing the sense of smell can affect our sense of taste. The children sampled different food items such as lemon, bitter melon, salt, and sugar. Naturally, they asked for more sugar after tasting the sour lemon! Then one child said “with lemon and sugar we can make lemonade”. Some of the children expressed how much they love to drink lemonade and asked if we could make some. The teacher picked up on this cue and asked each child to bring a lemon the next day, stating she would bring a bag of sugar and together they would make a batch of yummy, homemade lemonade (Social Skills).
The following day we counted the lemons one by one (Math) as we placed them into a basket. The children divided the work between themselves: some washed the lemons, some cut the lemons in half (with the assistance of the teacher), a few measured the sugar (Math), and others took turns adding water to the mixture in the jug (Science). Then everyone squeezed one half of the lemon into the jug and took a turn at mixing it all together.
Once they realized they had more than enough lemonade for everyone in their class, a child suggested they sell the lemonade to the teachers and parents that afternoon (Problem Solving). The teacher asked how much they think it should cost for each cup of lemonade? After much discussion, debate and negotiating, they decided 10 cents for each serving of lemonade was a fair amount. A couple of the younger children commented that ‘lemonade’ is a big word, so they asked their older friends and teacher to help write a sign (Literacy) for their lemonade stand. They decorated the poster by drawing some enticing pictures and made it even more appealing with craft supplies (Art and Creative Expression).
Later that day, one of the taller girls in the class taped it to the wall, and four friends helped carry a table and some chairs over. We gathered the necessary items for our stand such as cups, a cash box with change, a trash can etc. and invited everyone to enjoy the fresh squeezed lemonade we had made (Teamwork and Organization/Planning). When the teacher asked what the children would like to buy with the proceeds of their sale, they decided on a lemon tree to plant in the garden outside (Natural Environment)!

We believe the pre-set alternatives such as Project Based, Academic and/or Teacher driven lesson plans are fundamentally top-down projections of an adult approach to child care. Please don’t misinterpret this point. We strongly believe that academics need to be taught, it’s just that children can often be reluctant to engage in certain learning processes. We believe these other systems are neither organic nor flexible. Nor do they allow for free choice, individual creativity, or each child’s unique personality to shine through – what a shame! Remember: even the genius of Einstein and Edison was suppressed during their education!

Kids and teachers together. An irresistible force!

Teaching young children is not a straight line. Every moment, every day is different. We all know the goal and, whatever route each child needs, our teachers ensure we all get there. This is where the skill and knowledge of our teachers shines brightly. Our teachers are conductors, channeling each individual imagination while also bringing the children along as a group.

Our kids don’t transition to the next class based on age. During these early years a few months means a lot. They move up when they are ready. If a child is ready to transition but would be the youngest in the next class so be it. There may be small differences in timing but we believe it is important for each child to be able to learn as part of a group. Graduation will arrive before you know it and our kids will be ready. Oh, and by the way, we meet or exceed CSEFL standards.

We also never miss a chance to encourage and challenge the children in a developmentally appropriate manner. At ScuttleBugs there are “teachable moments” any day and everyday. Indoors or outdoors. Classroom or mealtimes.


Parents and teachers together. Another irresistible force!

We believe clear consistent communication with parents is key for both educational and personal reasons. This period is so important and these memories so precious in the life of the child. Our Directors and teachers talk to parents every day. We communicate with pictures and daily and weekly updates. At formal assessments every 6 months, teachers and parents review the previous assessment report, highlight the children’s progress, strengths and, if any, weaknesses and goals for the following 6 months.