Early Childhood Education
North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA)
The North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) is a network of educators, parents, and advocates seeking to elevate both the quality of life and the quality of schools and centers for young children. The history of this organization is rooted in the work and ideals of many dedicated individuals in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, all of whom have been inspired by the municipal early childhood programs of Reggio Emilia, Italy. These individuals visited the schools in Reggio Emilia, and carried back images and narratives about this powerful system of education based on a philosophy that values the potential of all children to think, learn, and construct knowledge. The first visitors returned to Reggio Emilia over and over again, leading delegations of colleagues. Supported by educators in Reggio Emilia and North America, they hosted the traveling exhibit from Reggio Emilia, The Hundred Languages of Children, organized conferences and courses, opened their schools for study and dialogue, and published articles and books, creating a vast network of learning inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.
Beginning in the summer of 2000, a group of these educators met regularly and in November 2002 NAREA became an official organization. NAREA currently has a membership of over 500 educators representing communities across North America. NAREA’s mission is to build a diverse community of advocates and educators to promote and defend the rights of children, families, and teachers of all cultures through a collaboration of colleagues inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy.
As an organization, the work of NAREA encourages the diversity of membership within the organization to include individuals from a full range of social, economic, and cultural communities. NAREA serves as a conduit for dialogue and exchange with Reggio Children and other international organizations that promote the rights of young children. The organization strengthens access to professional development initiatives and resources through communication tools. NAREA works to strengthen professional relationships among members by facilitating collaboration and exchange and creating professional development initiatives that are responsive to the needs and requests of members.
The benefits of NAREA membership include opportunities for communication and collaboration through several vehicles. Members have access to a Web site created and maintained by NAREA to provide information, resources, and a forum for the exchange of experiences and ideas among individuals interested in the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Members also receive the official periodical of NAREA, Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Exchange, a periodical by the Merrill-Palmer Institute, Wayne State University, quarterly. Members participate in meetings focusing on current issues in education with the support of educators from the schools of Reggio Emilia.
Inspired by the ongoing work in schools for young children in Reggio Emilia and their forty-year history of quality education, and along with a network of alliances worldwide, members of NAREA envision a world where all children are honored and respected for their potential, their capabilities, and their humanity.
Further Readings: North American Reggio Emilia Alliance, http://www.reggioalliance. org; Reggio Children, http://www.reggiochildren.it.
Lori Geismar-Ryan and Ellen Hall