Why is the environment where our children are educated so important?

According to scientific evidence, 90% of our brain develops in the first six years of life, when it is at one of its most plastic and sensitive stages. At this stage, the first experiences and the bonds we create with the people in our environment are decisive and significantly condition us for the rest of our lives.

Every child has a particular way of understanding and constructing reality. Therefore, it is important to promote active and collaborative learning where their skills and knowledge can be identified and developed, in a learning environment that respects their times.

 

 

The importance of learning spaces

With the aim of enhancing the unique abilities of each child and stimulating their interests and passions, our SEK Future Learning Model includes the creation of educational spaces that favour multidisciplinary and multisensory learning. These open, warm and bright spaces foster calm, exploration, play, socialisation and inquiry.

We offer both indoor and outdoor spaces that go beyond the classroom. These spaces include specific environments for cognitive development, such as reading, writing or mathematical thinking; for physical and artistic development through movement and interaction; and for social-emotional development through environments that encourage calm and symbolic play.

 

 

The value of nature for the care of physical and mental health

Outdoor spaces offer is free interaction full of stimuli. The natural environment offers children the possibility of enjoying learning while learning to respect and love nature. These types of spaces in our schools provide the ideal framework to help children experiment, stimulate their imagination and assist them in problem-solving. Nature invites them to play, to create and to take risks and challenges.

Inspired by the forest schools, a teaching trend hailing from northern Europe in which nature is the centres of learning, we have created outdoor spaces and activities in order to encourage open-air inquiry.

All these skills are then transferable to the classroom environment, improving each student’s learning experience, because they have exploration time to expand the concepts and learning that has taken place in the classroom. For example, students can use resources they find, such as pine cones, stones or sticks to explore previously acquired concepts and others to be acquired, such as shapes, patterns or even storytelling, finding creative ways to use them as tools.

Outdoor spaces encourage students to have their own voice, make decisions and own their own learning experiences, while they take on more responsibility.

 

 

Examples of indoor learning environments

Sensory experimentation classrooms:

One of the first aspects of brain maturity that occurs in childhood is sensory development. The senses are a window onto the world through which we can understand it, interpret it and be able to interact with it.

Our sensory classrooms are designed for our students to experiment and exercise their senses from their first months of life, which will allow them a healthy maturational development. In this type of multi-sensory classroom, the student participates actively, becoming aware of their actions on the environment. 

 

 

These classrooms are equipped with perceptual-motor materials, that is, they favour sensory and cognitive development in parallel with motor development. The colour of the classrooms will vary depending on the established learning objective, for example, if the classroom is light in colour, the students are stimulated with more sensory effects, and if the classroom is dark, the stimulation is given by ultraviolet lights and other effects that stand out in the dark).

 

 

Psychomotor skills classroom:

Each area of the brain has its own growth rate, and not all of them mature at the same time or in the same way. The sensory cortex is in charge of collecting and interpreting the information that arrives through the sense organs, and the motor cortex, that of directing and controlling body movements. Both areas of the brain mature long before it does, for example, the prefrontal cortex, which supports the most complex cognitive processes such as abstraction, planning, or decision making.

The sensorimotor cortex presents the point of maximum maturation during early childhood, and a positive development is key in the evolution of other areas of development such as cognitive, social or emotional areas.

At SEK Schools we design psychomotor classrooms where children acquire notions of space, time, laterality, relative to their body, objects and situations that facilitate the acquisition of new learning and the development of their abilities. The psychomotor activities that we present to children are very varied, attractive, motivating, and playful, in which movement is combined with relaxation.

 

 

The atelier and maker spaces:

Children are born with the innate ability to explore the world and the atelier is a space in which they can express their knowledge, emotions and interests and to explore different real, sustainable and natural resources through art such as music or painting.

Our students set their own goals in interdisciplinary projects that are built in collaboration with professionals from other disciplines. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia ethos, in this process of creativity, experimentation and artistic learning,  children develop emotional, social, cognitive and physical skills.

 

On the other hand, in recent years maker culture is gaining ground outside of formal education. Spaces are being created in which students “learn by doing,” through interaction and co-creation. SEK Education Group is a pioneer in incorporating this type of spaces in its schools. Our students carry out activities in makerspaces related to robotics and programming, communication, creativity, design or artistic activities from the earliest ages to promote the development of talent, innovation and creativity.

 

 

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