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The Best Preschools in the World

The Best Preschools in the World

[box type=”1″ align=”left”] EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of articles highlighting Huntsville’s diverse educational opportunities. Today, Sherri Naff who is the co-director of Country Day School explains the Reggio approach used at CDS.
[/box]If you are looking for an highly enriched and respectful approach to Early Childhood Education, you may want to investigate “The Reggio Approach”. In a study of best practices in PreSchool education worldwide sponsored by Newsweek, the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, were found to be THE best in the world. This top recognition attracted thoughtful educators, researchers and schools to investigate and then adopt this approach, now found in private and public schools all around the world.

NAEYC has linked their list of developmentally appropriate practices to Reggio approaches. Our school’s interest took us to Italy to study with the Italian educators for three intensive summer sessions with other teachers from all around the world. This training allowed us to bring this approach to the Country Day School  as the only Reggio school in this part of the state. We have been using the Reggio Approach as part of the program at The Country Day School for the past twelve years and it enriches our work with children daily.

The” Reggio” vision of the child as a competent learner has produced a strong child-centered curriculum model. The approach requires children to be seen as resourceful, imaginative, curious, inventive and possess a desire to interact and communicate with others.

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Here are some key features of Reggio Emilia’s early childhood program:
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  1. The Role of Environment as Teacher

    There is great attention given to the look and feel of the classroom. A classroom atmosphere of playfulness and joy pervades. Teachers provide environments rich in possibilities which provoke exploration and problem-solving. Documentation of children’s work and thoughts are displayed for parent’s and children to explore.

  2. Children’s Symbolic Multiple Languages

    Use of the arts as a symbolic language through which children express their understandings of their project work. Use of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theories in the everyday life of the classroom. Presentation of concepts in multiple forms such as print, art, drama, construction, music, puppetry, and shadow play. These are viewed as essential to children’s understanding of experience.

  3. Long-Term Projects

    Projects are child-centered,high interest, in which much of the learning of skills and concepts ( ABC’s and 123’s) is accomplished within a reason for learning. Explorations lead from one problem solving and research opportunity to the next naturally. Create excitement and joy in the learning process for both children and teachers.

  4. Documentation as Assessment and Advocacy

    Similar to the portfolio approach, documentation of children’s work in progress is viewed as an important tool in the learning process for teachers, parents and children. Picture documentation, as well as recordings of the child’s words, help parents feel involved in the project with their child.

  5. Home/School Relationships

    Children, teachers, parents and community are interactive and work together, building a community of inquiry between adults and children.Programs are family centered.

[/list] To find out more about this approach please feel free to contact The Country Day School at or visit our website at We are happy to provide tours of the school by appointment, call 256-837-5266 and ask for the registrar.


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