Developing the first new child care program on campus since 1976 offered us the opportunity to build a program with the experience of over 50 years of caring for children informing our decisions. The environments in which children learn are a source of inspiration, challenge, support, information and insight. In Reggio Emilia, the environment is thought of as the “Third Teacher”. Planning for an environment that supports children’s learning as well as a space that meets the practical realities of life with 80+ children under age 5 and the 40 dedicated staff who care for them was a critical dual mandate. Classrooms are set on the outside of the building, filled with windows and light, and each group has direct access to the playgrounds. They are spacious, and many offer direct connections to the group next door. Staff are provided ample professional space to work, meet and step away for a break from their work. There is enough storage space both in and outside of the classrooms, a rarity for early childhood! Materials in the building were chosen with an eye towards environmental sustainability.
When you enter the program, you will come into the piazza, an area inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. A large common space fosters cross-classroom activities, serves as a touch-down spot for individual families, and as a gathering place for the whole community. Also here, you will find the activity kitchen The logical spot for gatherings like potlucks and parent breakfasts, the activity kitchen also fosters collective cooking projects (think pretzels and playdough) and food-related cultural traditions and rituals.