What is an Atelier and an Atelierista?

An Atelier, when referring to Reggio is a space that is seen as an art studio/laboratory. It is a creative space where children can come and explore or work on long term projects alongside the Atelierista.

The Atelierista also known in other parts of the world as the Studio teacher, is the teacher who runs the Atelier. They are responsible for setting up art based provocations and/or working with small groups of children on a long term project. The Atelierista’s in Reggio all have different backgrounds and interests, and ,they use their unique knowledge to complete projects with the children. When I attended the Reggio Emilia conference in Italy, the one school I visited had an Atelierista with a background in photography and film making. He was working with the children on stop-motion videos. I also heard a lecture by another school whose Atelierista was a sport scientist and did a an in depth project with the children on climbing a tree.

What does the Atelier look like?

The Atelier could be classroom, a space, a place or even a shelf that allows children to have access to materials they can use. It provides opportunity to express themselves in various ways.

The Ateliers are mostly calm, neutral coloured spaces with plenty of wood and natural materials. They are more neutral and natural in colours as the believe the children are the colour and their artwork and documentation is displayed in the school and classroom. Reggio classrooms also try to create a feeling of home away from home and you can often see personal ‘home like’ touches such as pictures of the children’s families and some even have little lockers for the children to keep special items they bring from home for comfort.

The Atelier is a happy and relaxed place and is seen as an extension of the classroom and an integral part of the Reggio philosophy teaching and their image of child.

How you set up and organize your Atelier depends on how much space you have and how many children will be in the space at a time. Ateliers do have some things in common such as:

  • organizing the space so it flows easily.
  • storing items in clear containers so they are aesthetically pleasing.
  • having materials that the children can use accessible.
  • have many opportunities for children to explore new and familiar media.
  • teach the children how to use and respect all items in the Atelier.
  • display the children’s work and on going documentation in the space where possible.
  • set up the Atelier to deepen the children’s learning

Below are some pictures of spaces, not necessarily from Reggio but from all over the world for inspiration.

I hope this helps answer some questions, there is no instruction or right or wrong way to set up you atelier, you need to do what works for you and your school.

xxx Miss Kay

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