This summer senior UTeach Theatre students Haley Brower and Rebecca East studied Italian Early Childhood Education abroad through the HDF Maymester program. The course was designed so students could see how different regions of Italy approach child education for ages 0-6. Brower and East studied in Florence, Reggio Emilia, and Rome and observed Italian children in their schools and attended lectures at The University of Florence and Sapienza University in Rome as well as the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre in Reggio Emilia.
East and Brower found it most interesting to learn that many of the Italian approaches to early childhood education fall in line with the American term “arts-integration.” The focus of early childhood education is to provide a place where young children can build a community with their peers and learn how to navigate social interactions. In the Reggio Emilia region in particular, children play and build games with each other with used or recycled materials and believe children grow creatively when having to imagine their play through what most people would consider “trash.” While Brower and East say they learned a great deal about Italian food, art, culture, and education, they were most inspired by the Italian viewpoint that young children are autonomous in their education and raised to appreciate arts, their community, and the world around them.