In the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, the environment is referred to as “the third teacher”. The focus on the importance of the environment lies in the belief that children can best create meaning and make sense of their world through environments which support “complex, varied, sustained, and changing relationships between people, the world of experience, ideas and the many ways of expressing ideas.”
The following article titled “How the Environment Inspires Curriculum” by Julianne Wurm talks about working in Reggio-inspired ways.
Working with schools on transforming their practice or at least beginning on the path of Reggio-inspired practice has taught me many lessons. I have visited schools around the country and had reinforced time after time the idea that what we believe about children is visible in the choices we make within our schools. Nowhere is this more evident than in the environment. The choices about the environment we create also link directly to the play and learning in individual classrooms and schools. As part of the educational experience, we can render a great influence on the how and why of the actual play that is enacted, and curriculum engaged, by virtue of the choices we make in constructing these spaces. It is for these reasons that the environment is a wonderfully concrete place to begin asking educators to look at what they are communicating about how they view children. Continue reading here