Date of Conferral







Grace Lappin


Despite credible research to support a constructivist-based approach in early childhood programs, policymakers continued to push for a more academic-based philosophy in an effort to reach standardized testing goals. Reggio Emilia, a constructivist-based early childhood philosophy that originated in Northern Italy, has been shown to be an excellent model to facilitate optimum learning in young children. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to investigate parental experiences when choosing the constructivist-based early childhood program, Reggio Emilia, for their children and to explore parents' perceived benefits after their children attended. A constructivist conceptual framework was used to provide context for the Reggio Emilia philosophy. A purposeful sampling strategy was used to select a Reggio Emilia inspired program, Foundations Early Learning Center, in the American Midwest. Five parents who had enrolled their children at Foundations Early Learning Center for a minimum of 6 months participated through in-depth interviews. Data were analyzed, categorized, and clustered into similar themes that described the phenomenon. Results indicated parents identified an overall satisfaction for choosing a Reggio Emilia experience for their preschool children. Ten perceived benefits from parents were identified that were associated with their children after they attended the Reggio Emilia inspired program. Findings of the current study have the potential to bring awareness to policymakers and early childhood program directors when making decisions on what type of educational philosophy to implement into early childhood programs with results favoring the choice of a constructivist-based Reggio Emilia inspired program over alternative options.