Our Nursery Philosophy
St Andrew’s Nursery philosophy and curriculum is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning and development. This philosophy links to our whole school ethos of developing a respectful, creative and stimulating learning environment that embraces the natural world.
We are attentive to our youngest children and invest time to build relationships and help them to build relationships with others. Developing a powerful learning community is at the core of our beliefs.
Our approach views children as capable of acquiring knowledge within themselves through their natural curiosity and creativity. We provide hands on discovery learning that allows the child to use all their senses. What they are and become interested in becomes an important element in their own learning process. At St Andrew’s Nursery, we believe that children use many, many different ways to show their understanding and express their thoughts and creativity. A hundred different ways of thinking, discovering, through drawing, sculpting, dance, movement, painting, role-play, through modelling and music. Each one of these ‘Hundred languages’ must be valued and nurtured.
Teachers act as collaborators in the learning process of the children. This approach encourages them to offer their knowledge and help to the children. Children are encouraged to develop their own theories and work with the teachers to explore and collaborate in great depth. Importance has been placed on relationships, space, environments, and ‘time’. But most of all, teachers listen, observe, document and encourage children in whatever it is they are interested in doing.
St Andrew’s Nursery sees the child’s surroundings as an excellent medium through which a child’s learning experience can be enriched. Thus, our environment is open, comfortable and welcoming offering access to various learning tools for the children to explore. The nursery set up will allow for mobility and communication between peers. Group and peer communication are a primordial aspect of the Reggio Emilia approach. Children are often involved in small and large group projects linked to their interests. This learning enables the children to develop vital skills “talk, critique, compare, negotiate and problem solve”.
There is an area in the nursery known as the ‘atelier’ where the children will work on arts projects. This area contains a variety of tools and resource materials along with records of past projects and experiences. The children’s use of many media is not a separate part of the curriculum, but an integral part of the whole cognitive/symbolic expression involved in the process of learning.
The focus on the environment represents the value placed on aesthetics, organisation, thoughtfulness, provocation, communication and interaction. Because our approach encourages a child’s independent learning it is crucial that the learning process is carefully documented. This in the most part is done in a visual manner and displayed in the setting and in their learning journals. We take pictures, save children’s work (such as drawings, crafts, work of arts and transcripts of children’s thoughts). In this way, children, teachers and parents can follow the individual learning process of their child.
At St Andrew’s Nursery, we believe that children have an endless number of ways of learning. This is then reflected in the many materials, methods, instruments, activities, ideas and tools that are presented to the children. The learning tools are available to children based on their ongoing interest. It is a very hands-on approach to learning and discovering. This provides a holistic approach to educating the very young.
We have established special places within the Nursery
Piazza – the heart of a Reggio-inspired school is the piazza. It is a central, open space in which the class can gather but which can also be reconfigured to accommodate a wide variety of learning activities and groupings, from individual projects to small group experiments to larger group presentations and activities.
There is a rhythm to the day with children coming together for a time, then moving apart and breaking into different groups, only to return to the centre.
Atelier – this is a welcoming and inspiring place offering a wide variety of natural and manmade materials for artistic expression
Visitors to our Nursery often comment on, ‘the calm feeling’ and the positive interactions between very busy children. They comment on how the adults interact and relate to children’s theories and observe how they enter into provocation and dialogue to extend the child’s learning together - a very happy place for our youngest children to start their education.