At Blossom Space Impacts Learning is key and we are committed to providing learning space that is both secure and stimulating. Blossom areas are age appropriate and designed to accommodate our “emergent curriculum” approach. This means children should be exposed to many experiences and objects to get their creative juices flowing. As such, our space is secure, empowering and accessible for children to enable them to explore and use to build their curated play experience.
The organization of the physical environment is crucial to the Blossom early childhood program and is often referred to as the child’s “third teacher.” In designing Blossom we have worked to integrate each classroom with the rest of the school, and have incorporated freeflow and gyms, language and computer stations and more. Natural light has been maximized and our classrooms often open to a center piazza or community learning zone, playground or gym. Mirrors, photographs and children’s work characterize interiors. In each case, the environment informs and engages the viewer and we work to constantly renew our play spaces with new and inspirational materials and messages.
The classroom areas are curated to ensure a centers based approach to learning with a strong focus on language, literacy, environmental text, phonics, math, science, technology, and culture. It is child-centered, from classrooms to gyms, atriums, pools, sand pits and water features that excite and engage the learning process.
Where we learn and how is given high priority with two key learning intentions in the early years - self-directed exploration and focused play.
Self-directed exploration is found where children are independent learners and the space that they find themselves in must provide both varied opportunities of interest. Our classrooms are divided into “mini zones” which dispel the stressors of large group interaction and instill a feeling of small space ownership. Low walls and small carpeted areas with accessible activities ensure children can navigate the classroom exploring home corners, blocks, building stations, sand and water play, book corners, texture steps and cozy corners to curl into. Children can choose to follow their mood and ability which allows the child to observe, initiate and direct their own experience- it’s a space democracy which produces better short and long-term outcomes.
Each child is unique and will play differently. Children learn through experience-based learning and through child-led and adult-led activities. Adult play is an important role in child’s learning and development. Children make connections with their learning as practitioners encourage children to share their thoughts and ideas about what they are doing. Teachers or Directors of Love & Learning (D.O.L.L’s) as they are called at Blossom support each child’s progression through knowing them individually. They provide resources to scaffold the learning of new concepts and build the balance through guidance and self-determination.
Through sustained shared thinking children and adult work together to develop an idea, sort out a problem, review an activity or extend a narrative. Blossom team take a thoughtful and sensitive approach to children’s play and notice what it is that they are interested in or trying to achieve. With the child being in the center of the approach, teachers observe, assess and plan according to each individual child. In addition, once a child is well situated, engaged and does not need guidance the role of the Adult is to provide space. Space in play and particularly focused play as a pedagogical practice should be there for at least half the time. This allows reflection and allows children to work on the edge of their ability.
This balanced approach from an environment that informs to DOLL’s that are trained to have the courage to speak up but also the wherewithal to listen and provide space and time is crucially important. We believe that together it is this Space that Impacts Learning that truly bridges the best of progressive, emergent curriculums like Reggio Emelia, Waldorf Steiner and Montessori and objective frameworks like the British Early Years Foundation Stage thereby engaging the broad spectrum of early learners in our care.