In the Reggio Emilia educational approach, the environment is the third teacher. Spaces in Reggio Emilia schools are thoughtful and inviting, and materials in the classroom inspire children to think outside the box.
To encourage this exploration, many Reggio Emilia schools offer an Atelier for children to use in their artistic expression.
What is an Atelier?
“Atelier” means “art studio” or “workshop” in French. A Reggio Emilia Atelier is a welcoming and inspiring place with a wide variety of natural and man-made materials for expression. Either individually or in small groups, small children of all ages create experiences with these different media that will progressively support all their modes of expression.
Inside the Atelier
A bright and welcoming space, the Atelier is designated for children to explore and have fun. Materials like clay, paper, fabric, wire, light, beads, shells, leaves, and wood are available for children to investigate. The Atelier is designed to encourage collaboration as well as creativity, and children can work together with their peers to complete a project or discover new ideas. In the Atelier, the mood is calm and inspiring. Children explore at their own pace, and problem-solve and express themselves without time limits or restrictions.
Ateliers are led by an Atelierista, a teacher who is a partner in the child’s artistic journey. Atelieristas have a playful and spontaneous approach to working with children. While they work to motivate them to engage with the materials, atelieristas carefully observe each child’s process to see how they connect with different languages of expression such as dance, photography, movement, theater and more.
The benefits of a Reggio Emilia Atelier
An Atelier in a Reggio Emilia school encourages experimentation, intuition and spontaneous creativity. The wide variety of materials allows for free expression of ideas. The Atelier, along with other spaces in a Reggio Emilia school, invites children to invent, create and explore themselves through art.
The early exploration of the visual arts offers children endless possibilities. In addition to encouraging creativity and self-expression, exposure to art develops motor skills, cognitive development, and social and emotional skills.