Play is the highest form of learning in early childhood. Learning is only partly about learning new things. It is mainly about using what is already known, in flexible and imaginative ways. A child at play can do this to the full. (Tina Bruce, 2001)
As practitioners working within the Early Years, it is important for us to understand how children’s play impacts their learning, allowing them time to play in a relaxed environment that harnesses each child’s contribution and allowing them the opportunity to make mistakes and understand their frustrations and giving each child a sense of worth through the acceptance of their efforts.
Reggio Emilia inspired learning works hand in hand with the Early Years Foundation Stage were great emphasis is placed upon relationship, creativity and the environment.
Reggio Emilia inspired practise is embedded in principles of strong relationships between both children and adults where the child’s voice is as important as the adults. Our children are seen as powerful, strong and competent individuals who’s needs are listened to and acted upon. Great value is placed on the involvement of parents in their child’s learning.
We see the environment as the ‘third teacher,’ as our practitioners continually seek to extend learning through the use of creative and challenging activities that enhance a rich environment in which the children play and thrive. The approach supports the reflective nature of the EYFS in which the child’s interests, previous experiences and achievements and needs are identified, planned for and supported appropriately. Learning happens through play as children always have opportunities to investigate and explore; children are able to take ownership of their learning whilst supported by the positive and attentive adult relationships that keep them secure.
Being inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach means that we seek to provide greater opportunities for children to be creative and curious using open ended materials and objects. This means we value the ability to use our multi sensory resources throughout all age ranges with particular emphasis on reflections, light, shadows and mirroring. We chose to resource our setting with a range of everyday objects and natural resources such as stone and wood to create and play with. This extends to our outdoor area that is predominantly wooden with outdoor kitchen, teepee, climbing area and writing shed.