“…view the school as a living organism. A place of shared relationships among the children, the teachers, and the parents. The school produces for the adults, but above all for the children, a feeling of belonging in a world that is alive,
welcoming and authentic. (Malaguzzi, 1994, p.58)
Creating an environment for the children that is calm, nurturing and provides a sense of security is important on so many levels. Children should feel welcomed, cared for, respected, secure and experience a sense of belonging within their classroom/school environment. The use of the environment as a third educator comes from the Reggio Emilia Philiosophy. This philosophy of early childhood has been very useful so far in our planning and our approach to teaching . For more information on the Reggio Emilia approach you can visit sites such as http://www.reggiokids.com/about/about_approach.php .
Children should be relieved of stresses. The importance of minimizing stress will be further explained in our upcoming page entitled “Our Inquiry into Self Regulation”. The less a child feels stress the more positive energy they will have available for learning. Stressors in terms of environment could relate to lighting, colors and materials. The following is a list of effective strategies to get you started!
* Open your curtains, allow the natural light to be your main source of lighting in your room.
* Open your windows and allow for healthy movement of air
* Use mirrors, and materials that will reflect the natural light
* Bring the outside in! Use natural materials to decorate your classroom, and within the centres. (i.e. use sticks to paint, leaves to glue, stones and sticks to build etc)
* Minimize clutter! Too much choice can be overwhelming and help to create a large mess and in turn chaos!
* Provide resources and materials that promote learning and discovery.
* Use earth tones when choosing colors for tablecloths and paint for bulletin boards.
Your room, in the beginning, should look like a “clean slate” or an unpainted canvas. It should be seen as a work in progress that will evolve as children and educators create the learning environment together.
Frame the children’s artwork and display for children, parents and educators to admire.
Frame family pictures and create family boards the children can use and go to. This will comfort the children and also make parents feel more welcome and valued as their child’s primary educator.
“We place enormous value on the role of the environment as a motivating and animating force in creating spaces for relations, options, and emotional and cognitive situations that produce a sense of well-being and security.” Loris Malaguzzi, Italy