Centre Philosophy Statement
Imagine walking into an environment that inspires and respects both children and adults. Art displays, calming music, comfortable reading corners and natural surroundings create the respectful, safe and welcoming learning environment at Minimee and it reflects the children and adults who work in it. Here you will find everything has been carefully designed to instil a sense of belonging and a feel of home.
At Minimee we are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach where the environment is considered as the third teacher, which is why we have invested in creative, well-resourced indoor and outdoor settings. Children are the central focus and will not be pressured to achieve, but instead encouraged to discover and enjoy learning in their own sequence and at their own pace. Projects and investigations are captured from the language of children, their interests, their community (both local and global) and through their family events.
Play is how children learn. All children will have the time, resources and support they need to immerse themselves fully in the play that interests them encouraging their natural enthusiasm and curiosity whilst developing an understanding of their world and a lifelong love of learning.
At Minimee, the role of the teacher is that of a facilitator. It is important that our teachers learn and grow alongside the children and their families. Our teachers work as a team, building respectful, responsive and reciprocal relationships with families, whānau and children. The teachers at Minimee are passionate and committed to the education and care of young children. They are resourceful, fun and nurturing. We not only acknowledge and value that the teachers have diverse backgrounds, skills and interests, but we celebrate this too. The team at Minimee are reflective and dynamic. They always are striving to do better and make Minimee the best it can be. On-going self-review and professional development is supported and encouraged.
We implement in our practice the four guiding principles of Te Whaariki: empowerment, holistic development, relationships and community and family. We respect that each child is special and unique. We are committed to and value the cultural identity of each individual within the centre. We respect the importance of biculturalism and multiculturalism and incorporate this into our teaching practice. We understand that a child’s physical, emotional, intellectual, creative and social growth is interdependent so our vision is to deliver rich learning experiences for your children to discover, explore, grow and become competent and confident learners.
The Reggio Emilia Philosophy: Inspiring Our Teaching
The Reggio Emilia philosophy guides our practice and inspires our teaching here at Minimee. This is something we are very proud of and passionate about.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy is an educational approach from a province in Northern Italy named Reggio Emilia. The philosophy was developed by Loris Malaguzzi after the second world war. After the war, people started to believe that children were in need of a new way of learning. Loris Malaguzzi was a teacher in Italy at the time and he led a group of parents and teachers in developing some new ideas around teaching and learning. Their approach is based around four principles:
- Children leading their learning.
- Children learning through a range of rich and meaningful learning experiences.
- Children developing relationships with other people and material items in the world.
- Children must be able to extend themselves and express themselves in many ways—through “The Hundred Languages”
There are a few significant aspects in the philosophy that will be visible here at Minimee. They include group work, projects and investigations; the documentation of learning experiences; the learning environment as “the third teacher”; and relationships with each other, families and our community.
Project Work and Investigations
The teachers spend a lot of time observing and listening to the children. They notice their interests and then meet regularly as teams to plan around what the interests are. A project or investigation then begins and can go on for short periods of time (just a few days) or long periods of time (sometimes several months). The teachers take on the roles of facilitators in these projects and will learn alongside the children, promoting discussions and interactions, setting up provocations or changing the environment, providing new resources or materials and documenting the learning and progression of the project. Projects and investigations happen in all of our rooms at Minimee and they play a very important role in our day to day life here. Sometimes there are a few projects running at a time and other times there just one. Not all the children necessarily need to be involved in a project but they may be involved in another one. It is important to keep in mind that the projects will always be meaningful for the group of children and through the projects the children learn research skills and develop working theories about the world around them. Family and community participation is also very important in project work as it adds depth to the project and strengthens partnership.
Documentation of Learning
The documentation of childrens learning and experiences plays an important role in the learning process. Not only does it show the children how much we value the work that they do, but it allows the children to revisit their learning at later stages and share their learning with their families and friends. Revisiting prior learning experiences allows children to extend on these and further their learning.
The Learning Environment as “The Third Teacher”
The layout and design of the learning environments and the resources that are chosen is a significant part of the philosophy. Areas for small group activities are developed, a range of open ended materials including natural and sensory rich items are carefully selected, provocations (resources, books and materials set on a table or in an area) to inspire the children and extend on their interests. In the Reggio philosophy, we see the learning environment as the third teacher as we believe it plays such an important role in the development of learning.
Relationships and Community
Building relationships with each other and the local community is important in the Reggio as it adds depth and meaning to the children’s learning. Working together as a team—the children and parents and teachers—helps to give children opportunities to discuss ideas, negotiate, debate and support each other. Discussions help us to hear each others ideas which in turn develops our thinking.
The Reggio Emilia Philosophy in the Context of Aotearoa New Zealand
The Reggio Emilia Philosophy in Italy is very special and unique. It is part of a culture experienced only in the province of Reggio Emilia. To take away the philosophy and teaching approach and implement it in other country or even another city it Italy would not be appropriate or realistic. We as teachers can only be inspired by the principles and ideas of the philosophy and incorporate it into our teaching here in New Zealand. What this philosophy looks like outside of Reggio Emilia Province will vary from country to country, city to city and even classroom to classroom. We appreciate the people of Reggio Emilia sharing their approach to learning and teaching with us but we must make it relevant to our setting here. Fortunately here in Aotearoa, the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum Te Whaariki supports the ideas behind the Reggio Emilia philosophy and it is the two are closely aligned.
Storypark Online Portfolio
We are very proud to use Storypark here at Minimee as a tool for involving parents and whanau into the learning that happens at the centre.
Storypark is a secure online portfolio which is owned and controlled by the parent. Your child's teaching team will add stories, photographs, videos and other documentation that shows the learning and development here at Minimee which will be sent directly to your email inbox. You are able to comment on our updates, add your own and share your child's Storypark page with friends and family near and far.
We have been using Storypark since 2014 and have found it very succesful in strengthening the relationships between Minimee and home and we look forward to sharing it with new families who enrol at Minimee.
For more information about Storypark, check out their website here!