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Reggio Emilia inspired learning groups: Relationships, communication, cognition, and play

A key aspect of the Reggio Emilia inspired curriculum is a learning group approach that fosters social and cognitive development. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how a Reggio Emilia inspired learning group approach works for children with and without disabilities. This study gives insight into how to form an appropriate learning group including the effective ratio between children with and without disabilities, the teacher expertise required and other supporting strategies for children with special needs to function more positively in a learning group approach. This study employed both qualitative and quantitative data analysis to code selected videotaped learning group sessions. Findings indicated that across the five children, four children developed in the areas of relationship, communication, and play skills. Children within the learning group exhibited increased interest, inclusion, friendship, and empathy toward both children with special needs. In addition, facilitating high quality learning groups requires intentional planning, reflection, and engagement from children and teachers. (author abstract)
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