Valentine’s Day – our way!

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Valentine’s Day – our way!

We had a week long fun approach to the day of love!  A week long where love was in the air …

For years we would have felt under pressure surrounding these celebrations to make gifts and cards to send home to parents and families.  A week where it was all about the adults in the room

  • perfecting cards
  • managers checking that siblings in families didn’t get more home from one room than they did another,
  • that all cards met our own in house quality kitemark, and
  • where children’s hands and feet were never out of a basin as we were doing handprints and footprints like they were going out of fashion!


What changed?

Now I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I still have very high standards I want to keep.

When I went out to Reggio Emilia in 2016 I had already researched about alternative methods to the pre printed displays and primary coloured notice boards we were changing each month as well as the huge focus on processes and tick sheets.

I was immediately drawn to the focus on process over product.  The focus on children working together on joint projects and art rather than individual a4 sheets of card.  The way the adults in the room were researching with the children and not leading them.  How advanced the children were in these learning environments from a very early age.

On my return I immediately wanted to transform our settings overnight.  That was challenging as no-one else in our settings had seen what I had seen and it wasn’t easy to transform practice which had been ingrained in our settings for years.

It took three years and more visits by Bronagh & Amy to Reggio Emilia for us to start to get the whole company mindset to think the same way.  During this period we found the Curiosity Approach.  That accreditation programme enabled us to bring our staff on a learning journey and one of the key elements was focusing on process over product.  Karen and Rachel were also able to go to shadow in their settings and Bronagh & I also attending one of their professional development days.

One of the key examples the Curiosity Approach give is about having a display with 50 identical Easter bunnies or the hand printed Easter chicks which were made by adults holding children’s wrists as they carefully printed the hand on card taking extra care that the painted didn’t smudge or smear.  They reconfigure that parents may love to look back on these creations but hope that parents recognise that its far better for children to create items that are unique to their individual child.  After all we don’t need children from a young age to have to meet certain expectations or to be clones of one another – we want children to learn to be unique and that there should be no peer pressure at any age.

The curiosity approach taught our team that it was more important to capture the moment in time with children.  To create their own artwork with individuality building their own self esteem.  Art work which we value and we don’t fix or correct.

So hopefully you have enjoyed the child led craft that came home last week.  There were no step by step instructions, we didn’t all create at the same time, it wasn’t hurried or rushed, adults had no input into the direction of the art work, children made their own choices from the materials on display.  It was all about love -we loved observing and capturing photos of the process, the children loved the week and we hope you loved the uniqueness it all – shown in the photos for example the uniqueness of the cards and such as the beautiful bouquet of flowers made from wood


Not forgetting the parties – the children all really enjoyed the parties as well!  Thanks to all the parents who joined in and we loved seeing some parents photo’s of the high tea on instagram of your own children .  Keep sharing and tagging us.

Some more photos  from around the settings last week

Feeling the love – through sensory play

Tasting the love – some of the fun snacks and party food from around the wraparound units

And the staff who know just how to ‘oversee – participate – co research – but never ever TAKE OVER the creativity’

All dressed in pink and red for the parties !  The staff team now wouldn’t go back to the old ways of adult led activities at all.  We certainly rock our pedagogy of Reggio inspired, playwork passionate and a sprinkle of curiosity.

Valentine’s Day – the Sleepy Hollow Way

Diane Koplewsky

17th February 2020



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