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Why I’m setting up Petersfield’s new farm school nursery and what is Reggio Emilia?

Where’s it from?

After being devastated by war in 1945, a group of parents in Reggio Emilia, Italy decided they wanted to build their own school, where parents, children, staff and the wider community are all seen as part of the education process. A teacher, Loris Malaguzzi, was so inspired by the courage and motivation of these parents that he changed his job so he could teach in the first centre. And it grew from there….

Why the Reggio Emilia Approach?

It’s a little bit different! Having very limited choice when choosing my first child’s nursery five years ago, I had no idea these magical places existed and was over whelmed by how beautiful, calming and engaging the environment was, not only for the children but also for me! When I walked into my first Reggio setting it was one of the most authentic spaces I’ve had the pleasure to explore. Every member of staff an integral part of the community – their passion for the children and the Reggio approach fascinated me! This nursery became the ‘Old Dairy Farm Nursery’s’ business model!

What is it?!

Reggio environments are welcoming, aesthetically pleasing, nurturing and home like. Portraying a sense of calmness and tranquillity by using natural materials, light & indoor plants. Uncluttered, clean space and organised storage empowers children to make their own choices. Out with all the plastic-fantastic and in with the Reggio materials that are typically; sensory, open ended, authentic, natural, interesting and inviting. With the intention to; stimulate thinking; revisiting prior learning; ignite curiosity & creativity; encourage their interest, exploration & engagement.

Loose parts, real tools and real materials – manmade and natural, are available for children to use to encourage creative and imaginative play.

Light boxes and projectors are used to explore, light, colour and shadow. Mirrors are used as backgrounds, surfaces and tiles so children can reflect and observe.

The Reggio approach views children as capable, inquisitive curious learners and experiences are planned to spark creativity, thinking, planning and reflecting.

The children’s educators provide ‘Provocations’; deliberate and thoughtful decisions made by the practitioners to extend the ideas of children. The teachers provide the materials, media and general direction as needed but the children take the ideas where they want.

Children’s work is displayed to communicate to them that their work is valued and that this is their space. This is also done to provide a record of the learning process; reveal connections between events; review experience and to make their learning visible.

The importance of Outdoor Play

Interestingly ‘Kindergartens ‘ literally translates to ‘gardens for children’ seen by some professors as the best environment for young children’s learning and development. As well as emphasising the importance of children’s interaction with nature.

The care and attention we’ve paid to organising our outdoor space will encourage the children to make good use of the space, developing exploration and enquiry, whilst learning about the world around them, giving them the opportunity and space to play, explore, investigate and build knowledge.

Our team at the ‘Old Dairy Farm Nursery’ are very much looking forward to opening our unique and exciting nursery in January and meeting all our new children and families.

‘’The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed by the sky.’’ Margaret McMillan


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