Our Classroom and School Environment
The school environment plays a central and essential role within a Reggio-Inspired early childhood program. Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia approach, describes how educators view the school “as a living organism, a place of shared relationships among the children, the teachers, and the parents… (creating) a feeling of belonging in a world that is alive, welcoming and authentic.” The environment plays such a significant role in Reggio-Inspired programs that it is often referred to as the “third teacher.”
Reggio-Inspired programs give appropriate attention to the look and feel of the learning environment both within the classrooms as well as in the common spaces of the school. By giving consideration to how materials and documentation are displayed, the goal is to create an atmosphere that fosters creative exploration while also demonstrating respect for children’s work.
Classroom Environmental Guidelines
Here are a few highlights of The Compass School’s environmental guidelines:
- Classroom environments should be a reflection of the children, parents, and teachers who live and learn there.
- Items, objects & resources should be arranged in an enticing, imaginative, inviting, and/or thoughtful way- the environment should not feel cluttered or institutional.
- Environmental emphasis on natural, every day, and “real life” materials.
- Documentation should be interesting rather than decorative, serious (not cute), engaging (not entertaining).
- Visible documentation should be present to reflect work currently in process. Focus of documentation on displaying the creativity and thinking of children as it happens, as opposed to viewing documentation as a finished product.
Parents entering The Compass School for the first time consistently comment that the look and feel of the school is unlike other preschools or child care centers that they have visited. By respecting our school environment as the “third teacher,” The Compass School strives to offer children a uniquely warm, inviting and child-centered school environment in which to explore, discover, and grow.
“The space has to be a sort of aquarium that mirrors the ideas, values, attitudes, and cultures of the people who live in it.”
Loris Malaguzzi, The Hundred Languages of Children