As you walk into Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center, one can’t help but notice the unique ambience reflected throughout the building. Low-level lighting and thoughtful presentation and placement of open-ended authentic materials are just a few of the aspects that shape the environment of our school. A reciprocal relationship between the unique environments and intriguing materials fosters independent, complex, and lifelong learners.
Parallel to the Reggio philosophy, we believe our environment is the third teacher. Our aesthetic environment allows children to engage in collaborative long-term investigations in which children construct knowledge through inquiries, explorations, and conversations. Large group, small group, and individual areas enriched with authentic materials and provocations accommodate all learning opportunities. Documentation, including but not limited to pictures, videos, art, transcribed conversations, validate children’s new knowledge and enables them to share with other children, teachers, parents, community members.
A major part of our environment is open-ended materials. These materials encourage the children to think creatively and provide them more opportunities to expand their meaning of the world that surrounds them. The use of open- ended materials provides more exploration opportunities as the children use them in a wide variety of ways. Each child gives the material their own unique meaning. Authentic materials are nonspecific and therefore can be taken to any area assisting in the adaptability of our spaces.
Our belief is that all children are eager to learn at any age and we feel our classrooms should support their readiness. A warm and inviting environment of thoughtfully presented materials is critical in challenging children. We feel our environments should communicate to the children that we believe in their ability to become independent learners and critical thinkers. In our classrooms, you will find materials presented on low, open shelving, which allows easy access for the children to choose the things that interest them. The materials are also placed in neutral colored baskets or clear and open containers so the material is emphasized, not the container.
The essence of learning at Rosa Parks ECEC is the fusion of distinctive environments and fascinating materials. The emphasis we place on our environments communicates our high expectations and strong beliefs that all children are competent and zealous learners. Child engagement and success is evident throughout the school as the children independently and collaboratively explore the environments and materials.