According to the Reggio Emilia Approach, the environment is a key component of healthy early childhood education. The environment refers not only to the natural environment, but also the social, physical, and educational components of the classroom. So how can you make your environment a conducive place for children to direct their own learning? Margie Carter is a teacher educator in the US and Canada and she has some important tips for creating an environment that is a third teacher. Here we outline some of her key strategies (full source article listed below).
- BRING WORDS TO LIFE: you can do this in a variety of ways but start by looking at quotes or information about the environment that you want to share. Now create a visual representation of that philosophy or idea.
- ELIMINATE AS WELL AS SUPPLEMENT: declutter and replace unnecessary items with items that provocate thought and learning
- EXPLORE VALUES FOR YOUR ENVIRONMENT: if you work in a place where you are sharing classroom spaces with other educators, get together and discuss what values you want reflected in the environment (for example, do you want to emphasize that this space is a home away from home, that it is a space of creativity and exploration, that it is a space for active play?), then discuss how you can arrange the environment to reflect these goals.
- SET GOALS AND ADDRESS BARRIERS: certain aspects of the environment you want to create might not be practical or feasible at the time you are brainstorming. Set reasonable goals for how you can alter your environment to make it the third teacher and address how you can get around barriers to these goals.
Source: Carter, Margie (2007). Making Your Environment “The Third Teacher”. Exchange, The Early Leaders’ Magazine Since 1978. Redmond, WA. Web: www.ChildCareExchange.com