One of the key roles of the Reggio Emilia approach is the third teacher. This is not an actual teacher, as in a person but instead the environment in the setting.
Children thrive in an environment that is well suited to their interests and stages of development. It should be welcoming, pleasing to the eye, represent the communities cultures and beliefs, embrace nature and be filled with purposeful resources.
It is important that the environment is not over stimulating to children’s senses.
Environments should support learning through the senses.
Previously our settings were filled with brightly coloured resources and brightly painted walls and displays. This type of environment can be distracting to children and so we have moved to more subdued colours which provide a calming effect which in turn support attention and concentration.
We aim to provide a variety of tactile experiences which incorporate a variety of textures, and supporting these textures with language provides further development.
Younger children learn by putting things in their mouths so tasting new things it another way to learn. Its vital we provide safe objects for children to explore in this way.
Smells stimulate the brain in different ways. Peppermint, orange and cinnamon make you more alert, where as lavender tends to relax you. We provide resources with varied scents for children to explore, and adding them to play, such as playdough.
Sounds are another way to stimulate the brain, but making sure these are appropriate to the time of day is important. Calming music at quieter times, and lively music at physical times. Music from different cultures and varied styles are also played through record players.
When creating the environment is it important to manage these stimulants to best support children’s learning.
A well designed environment should support and enhance all areas of children’s development.
The layout helps to promote relationships, communication, collaboration and exploration.
Materials provided promote creativity, thinking and problem solving, questions, experiments and open ended play.
What is important in our environments at Little Achievers?
They are adaptable to the children’s needs, interests and development by the children and staff.
Children and staff learn to respect and take care of resources.
It is flexible.
Areas are light and spacious.
Resources draw in children and their curiosity.
Our environments inspire children!