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Values & Choices in Early Years Education

Often on my travels practitioners will ask me do I know of any nurseries in the UK that have adopted the Reggio Emilia philosophical practice. Straightaway I say ‘Reflections Nursery, in Worthing!’ Having visited Reflections myself, I am well aware of their inspirational practice and the positive impact that this has on children’s learning and development. Therefore, I am very excited that Martin Pace, the owner and Director of Reflections Nursery, is my guest blogger writing about their approach to early learning.

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Martin has worked in the childcare sector for 20 years. Reflections Nursery is a 115-place nursery; Winner of UK Nursery of the Year 2009/10; Worthing Business of the Year 2010/11 and Southern Business of the Year 2011/12. The nursery was awarded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted at its last inspection in 2010.

Martin has attended eight study tours of the infant-toddler centres and pre-schools of Reggio Emilia since 2003 and is studying for an MA in Early Childhood Studies. He is responsible for overseeing pedagogy at Reflections and until recently led the Reflections’ Forest School programme.

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Martin states:

“Reflections Nursery & Forest School in Worthing, UK runs professional development days twice a year for visiting early years’ educators. What is so special at Reflections to make anyone want to visit? Well, in my experience every nursery has its unique approach based on the values of those operating it; all of which are worth visiting so that you can reflect on your own values.

At Reflections we draw inspiration from the world-renowned infant-toddler centres and pre-schools of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy.  Several members of the team have visited Reggio on study tour, (some many times) and we share their values of what it is to be a child and how best to support children to make meaning of the world around them. These values are based on the image of the child as competent, and capable of directing his or her own learning.

My beautiful picture

In the nursery our focus is on supporting children’s theories and giving them the opportunity to investigate those theories. We listen to children and observe them closely, noting their interests and ideas and give them the resources, space and time to work on their ideas to create meaning. What does this look like in practice?  Lots of long-term project work and lots of documentation of their learning journeys.  And we share this with our visitors.

As with any nursery setting, we make choices every day at Reflections about how best to support children’s individual and group learning.  These choices involve consideration of the learning environment, the open-endedness of the resources, the time we give to any experience the children are involved in and any next steps we might seek to support. We consider it important for example, to support children’s creative expression and we choose to have a full-time artist working with the children.  We value nature as a teacher and take children into local woodland every week and have an edible garden where children grow their own food.

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We welcome visitors so we can share our values and develop a dialogue, which supports learning for ourselves as educators and for others. Our next Professional Days in 2013 will be on Saturday, 14th May 2014 at the nursery in Worthing.  The day in April is entitled Long-term Project Work: Indoors & Outdoors – if you work in the early years come and see what we do and see if you share our values. More information here: http://www.reflectionsnurseries.co.uk/default.aspx?pageid=56

With huge thanks to Laura for the opportunity to guest blog.”

All images copyright to Reflections Nursery.

Martin Pace, Director Reflections Nursery & Forest School, Worthing

www.reflectionsnurseries.co.uk

Follow Reflections Nursery on Twitter: @reflections54

Creative Children

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