Bright Stars Nursery, Sunderland, UK
Our environment at Bright Stars Nursery consists of one purpose built room and a large outside space. We cater for children from birth to 5 years. Before we started implementing Elizabeth Jarman’s Communication Friendly Spaces™ Approach, our room was cluttered with tables and chairs, had no definition or specific inviting areas or spaces for children to really focus in, settle and ‘talk’. We felt our children were using the areas within the setting to run from activity to activity and did not seem to become focused on much. The noise level of the whole nursery was very loud and it felt chaotic. Resources lacked in terms of quality, there was no character and the space just seemed unloved. We knew we had a big challenge on our hands.
We had a vision though that we wanted to create an open, inviting, stimulating, calm and natural environment, which children and parents could come into and feel comfortable, safe and excited about exploring. We took away the tables and chairs to open up the room and created lots of inspirational and exciting Communication Friendly Spaces.
“Having a clear vision is key and absolutely the starting point for any environment review. Everyone should understand the vision. It should influence the environment completely. “
Instead of using the strip lights we used lamps and fairy lights to soften the atmosphere and to create a calming environment. We re-painted the bright walls to neutral colours and added wallpaper onto feature walls to create a homely feel. We replaced our busy display boards with natural backgrounds and beautiful action photos of our children to catch the attention of our parents. Children’s work is now displayed at their eye level to allow them to recall achievements. We now use cushions, blankets, cosy dens and rugs to create a softer/homely feel. The majority of our nursery furniture and equipment is up cycled by our staff and children, which allows them to take ownership of what they have created as well as having more respect for areas/resources.
“Who are the displays for? How do they reflect the process of learning? Can children interact with them? Do they trigger recall about learning experiences?”
We have observed an immense impact on the way our children are playing, learning, exploring and developing. We have found that our children really become engrossed within the environment and are absorbing lots of new information. Our learning environment has become the ‘third teacher’. Staff are gaining more knowledge and becoming more skilled when using natural materials and resources.
“Repurposing is a real feature within this setting. The resources and furniture there really make you feel curious.”
Our children are excited to learn now; they are questioning more and eager to keep progressing with lines of enquiry. We have observed a lot more independent thinking and team work from our children since the changes and it has been amazing to watch this unfold and develop into something truly magical.
As a team we truly believe that every child has the opportunity to flourish in an environment that supports calm, engaging and purposeful play using recycled and natural resources in which all children can develop their imagination and creativity. Our teaching style is very much based on first hand experiences. Our staff strive to teach creatively when using real tools and natural resources. St consistently look for new resources and will scour our local community, factories, waste management sites etc to find relevant materials that will enhance learning. As a team we all work as one to ensure resources are renewed when needed, enhanced, and kept clean, tidy and cosy. There is a constant flow of ideas between staff and children to ensure our environment is child led and challenging.
“It has been fantastic watching the way that over time, this team has continued to develop and evolve their environment, always reflecting and striving to make the very best place for their children and community to thrive.”
Bright Stars Nursery, Sunderland, UK