A magical time of learning
A magical time of learning
The COVID-19 lockdown brought into focus many new challenges for parents and caregivers. Foremost among these was learning how to create the optimal learning environment for a child.
For many parents, it became clear that the space a child learns in has an important impact on their development.
No one knows this more than Sue Stevely-Cole, founder and director of Bear Park. She founded Bear Park in the belief that childhood should be a magical time of wonderment and learning, and that the space children learn in plays a key role in their development.
By fostering an environment of wonder, Bear Parks are a place where children can explore with curiosity, excitement and amazement.
“They’re nurturing places, places of laughter and of joy and places of friends and of memories,” says Sue. “Children have no inhibitions and we want them to have the time and space to be just that – a child.”
Every parent knows their child is unique and this is something Sue and Bear Park’s teachers celebrate.
The recognition that children possess endless ways of self-expression outside of writing and learning is the pillar of Bear Park’s educational programme.
It is inspired by the New Zealand Early Childhood curriculum Te Whaariki and the Reggio Emilia approach from northern Italy.
The philosophy recognises the many different ways that children are capable of learning and encourages them to be lifelong learners, with a curiosity about the world around them.
This fosters healthy self-esteem, self-value and a thirst for knowledge.
With these educational philosophies underpinning the curriculum, Bear Park sees the environment a child learns, plays and explores in as the third teacher.
By treating the environment as a learning tool, Bear Park provides opportunities for children to explore and experiment, develop their ideas and test their theories.
In Bear Park’s infant and toddler rooms, children are encouraged to engage with the natural world, textured landscapes, different technologies and multiple languages – built upon safe, supportive learning foundations and the belief that together, parents and teachers can nurture competent and confident children.
Relationships and partnerships are also valued in Bear Park’s rooms. During this important time in their development, a foundation of trust, safety and security is vital.
This supports children in developing the confidence they need to explore, learn, grow and feel joy.
Bear Park believes that a learning environment must recognise the child as a confident, capable and unique individual, therefore providing the time and space for collaborative and individual exploration to take place.
The key characteristics of Bear Park’s nurturing environments are:
- Stay and play: A space that invites you in to stay awhile and enjoy the act of play.
- Feel welcome: Where you are welcomed and experience a sense of belonging.
- Create connections: A place to encounter others and make friends.
- Celebrate uniqueness: Where children feel valued for being who they are.
- Value culture: A place where your cultural identity is visible and valued.
- Inspire intrigue: The space excites you to engage with it.
- Different landscapes: Children can explore a multitude of textured landscapes.
- Love for nature: An environment that infuses the natural world with the recycled.
- Clear purpose: A place that has purpose for everyone in it.
- Respect for all: Care and respect for every individual.
- Small discoveries: Where small group discoveries can be made every day.
- Embrace technology: An environment where technologies abound.
- Diverse expressions: Where multiple languages are embraced and encouraged.