So I casually walked into one of the play rooms at The Old School House Day Nursery in Tamworth this morning and felt a pang of wow! I’m not sure what a pang of wow is – but when you see the pictures, I hope you can understand my description – maybe ‘pang of wow’ will catch on? It’s not enough to tell you it was inspiring and imaginatively designed with carefully selected resources, because I felt the most wonderful sensation as I took in how this room made me feel. Even as I sit here now and try to describe how it felt, I can only say I physically experienced how wonderful it felt to see, explore and absorb this environment for the very first time. How lucky are the children who have the pleasure of experiencing this environment everyday?
Loris Malaguzzi taught us ‘there are three teachers of children: adults, other children, and their physical environment’. I, like so many others, know this to be true – but how many settings really do value the environment in this way? In this old building with its high ceilings, and exposed beams the sun shone through the windows and added warmth to the neutral painted brick walls and showcased the provocations carefully selected to inspire curiosity. Simple displays of children’s creations with photographs of meaningful, purposeful child-led learning were subtle contributions to this inviting environment.
Elizabeth Jarman founder of Communication Friendly Spaces explains, ‘it’s critical to understand how the physical space should connect with its intention. I think it’s essential to tune into the environment from the learner’s perspective. To do this, it is really important to observe, reflect and then make informed decisions about the way that children and families interact with the environment if a developmentally appropriate, personalised, responsive learning space is to develop, reflecting preferred contexts for learning.’
It’s no coincidence that such environments are noticeably calm and show us how children can take charge of their learning, by revelling and delighting in open ended resources designed to challenge, motivate and ignite curiosity that will enhance holistic development. The joy and value this brings is something to treasure and respect -as they will most certainly support every child’s individual needs,allowing them to thrive in an inclusive environment where they feel physically and emotionally safe and secure.
Take a moment when you’re next in your setting, to absorb how it feels as you walk in, explore and just be. Maybe – just be a child for a moment and take the opportunity to look at through a child’s eyes.
‘The child has a different relation to his environment from ours… the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.’ (Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind)
To view more photographs from visit my Facebook page Kate Moxley Early Years Consultant.