Over the past forty years, educators there have evolved a distinctive innovative approach that supports children’s well-being and fosters their intellectual development through a systematic focus on symbolic representation. Young children (from birth to age six) are encouraged to explore their environment and express themselves through many “languages,” or modes of expression, including words, movement, drawing, painting, sculpture, shadow play, collage, and music. Leading children to surprising levels of symbolic skill and creativity, the system is not private and elite but rather involves full-day child care open to all, including children with disabilities.The book represents a dialogue between Italian educators who founded and developed the system and North Americans who have considered its implications for their own settings and issues. The book is a comprehensive introduction covering history and philosophy, the parent perspective, curriculum and methods of teaching, school and system organization, the use of space and physical environments, and adult professional roles including special education.
High-quality early childhood education produces “long-term positive outcomes and cost-savings that include improved school performance, reduced special education placement, lower school dropout rates, and increased lifelong earning potential.