Real and Natural Resources
Our Sustainable Educational Approach has what we consider the best elements of a few approaches…
One is Reggio Emilia, an approach that invests in the belief that the environment is a third teacher and uses every crevice of its space as an opportunity for learning. Reggio environments, like ours, often have a great deal of natural light, authentic art and creative materials, and freedom of movement. Another inspiring aspect is the provision of provocations, which are essentially invitations to play. Using children’s interests, resources are displayed and arranged in a way that promotes inquiry and investigation. For instance, a mortar and pestle may be placed in the middle of a table surrounded by a well-arranged assortment of herbs, flowers, and playdough. How children connect their own ideas and choose to use the resources is entirely intrinsic. The role of the adult is solely to document via notes/observation and provide support, if necessary.
We are also similar to aspects of the Steiner system, in that our education is influenced heavily by nature and the seasons. And Montessori, which advocates self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning
These approaches are all evident in each of our environments. We have been influenced by what we believe are the most positive and beneficial aspects to each and combined them with our own individual sustainable curriculum. Not only are our materials are sustainable but they are there to teach the children sustainability.
Throughout the nursery is stocked with loose, natural materials such as glass jars, pine cones and leaves, seaweed, corks, wood/bark pieces, oil pastels, etc. We do not keep certain things out that we have decided the children should play with that day – they always have access to it all so they can extend their thoughtful play themselves, challenge themselves and develop their independence.
All areas in the nursery are thoughtfully set up with children’s current interests combined with sustainability in mind and children are also invited to set the tables up themselves as they see fit.
At Young Friends Nursery and Nature School we choose to provide real and natural resources instead of plastic ones. There are many reasons why this method is beneficial to children desire to investigate and imitate. The minute we replaced our plastic tea sets with the real versions role play became far deeper and richer. They were actually imitating the adults around them because these are the real things they use. Natural resources flood not only our Reggio Emilia areas but also our maths, writing and construction areas. For example, we have made our own wooden blocks of all shapes and sized to children can make their own imaginative cityscapes. They count and sort in a much more intricate and child led manner with driftwood, shells, pine-cones and much much more. The children decide their tasks and how complicated or simple to make them. This, we find, is far more educational and mind-enhancing than colour and shape sorting with their plastic counterparts where the task is already dictated.