Early Years Teachers give much thought about how to arrange materials, when preparing the classroom environment. Our desire is to present invitations to play that engage children in thinking and encourage them to explore. I have recently been reading about the idea of the ‘aesthetic dimension’.
‘Aesthetic dimension’ is described by Vea Vecchi (Atelierista of the Diana School, Reggio Emilia, for 30 years) as “a process of empathy relating the Self to things and things to each other…it is an aspiration to quality that makes us choose one word over another, a color or shade, a certain piece of music, a mathematical formula or the taste of food… It is an attitude of care and attention for the things we do, a desire for meaning; it is curiosity and wonder; it is the opposite of indifference and carelessness, of conformity, of absence of participation and feeling…”
Vea Vecchi, Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia, 2010: 5
Exploring the ideas related to the ‘aesthetic dimension’ has made me focus on our learning spaces and experiences in EY1. As a result, I have been more mindful when preparing the environment. I have hoped to create a welcoming atmosphere that inspires meaningful connections and conversations between members of the learning community.
Last week, we offered the children a number of invitations to play, including water play in trays with flower petals, herbal teabags with warm water, cups, spoons and teapots, to playdough with aromatic spices. While observing the children at play (‘play’ being the technical term for ‘the work’ of the three and four year-olds), I was most struck by the instances of joyful cooperation and delight the children found in the collaboration. I observed the steady ease of the ways in which the children were able to achieve their desired goals with the assistance of their peers. I believe that the thought and care that was put into the preparing the environment allowed and supported the children in their interactions, by creating spaces where the children can work together to share materials and exchange and build upon ideas.
Learning experiences such as the invitations to play highlighted here allow for the teachers and children to explore and build understandings related to our PSE (Physical, Social and Emotional) curriculum goals;
PSE- Interactions: Phase 1 Outcome – Learners interact, play and engage with others, sharing ideas, cooperating and communicating feelings in developmentally appropriate ways. They are aware that their behaviour affects others and identify when their actions have had an impact.
ICS Scope and Sequence Curriculum Document
Photographs by Rebecca Smith EY1 Teacher
Vecchi, V. (2010) Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia: Exploring the role and potential of ateliers in early childhood education. Routledge: Oxon