- This school year, Sacred Heart Preschool unveiled a unique new learning space in Salesia Hall on Ursuline Campus, home to the preschool's 3-5 year old students. The Atelier is a a room of simple beauty and wonderment where children will explore sensory materials, experiment with light and shadows, and experience multiple art mediums such as paint, oil pastels, clay, wire, and loose parts. The Atelier is a space where children have agency and direct their own play, a place where discoveries are made and an inquiry mindset is instilled.
- Along with International Baccalaureate influences, SHP borrows from the Reggio Emilia pedagogy that considers a student's environment to be an essential element in how they learn. The space is considered the "third teacher," because it is designed intentionally to inspire curiosity, collaboration, research, communication, problem-solving and creativity. If a space is beautiful and inviting, students and teachers are more engaged in the process of constructing knowledge together, and that experience leads to better retention and transfer of knowledge, the lifelong love of learning. In the Atelier, we emphasize the process of learning, rather than the product. The journey of making meaningful connections is critical.
- We talked with our Atelierista, Caroline Samuel, also an IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) teacher in the Green Room, to find out more about this exciting new offering from SHP.
- Q: What is an Atelier and why is having this designated space so unique?
The Atelier is a space that embodies the image of the child, where an inquiry mindset and an expressive education is rooted. It is so important that we, as an early childhood learning center, have prioritized this space and committed to the value of expressive education and the arts, and the benefits it offers young children.
- Q: What are you most excited about now that the Atelier is open and being enjoyed by SHP students?
Through “creating the bones” for the space, I have become very intimate with the Atelier, spending a lot of solo time in it. I have come to realize that the space to thrive at SHP, it must “come to life,” and that will only happen when the children begin to make their marks on the space. I look forward to “listening” to the Atelier, and my role in guiding its nourishment, so the space can flourish.
- Q: What are future plans for this space?
I have vague plans in mind, but am trying to be flexible in my vision, as I have come to realize that the Atelier will let me know what it needs, as long as I stay very true to the commitment that the space is to embody the image of the reflect those images throughout. I do plan to leave the light and shadow space as a year-round installation of exploration and discovery.
- Q: As the for SHP, what do you do?
As in most progressive education philosophies, the teacher in the room serves as a guide, and I intend to serve the Atelier as a guide to my colleagues and all our young friends, allowing the space itself to serve as the 3rd teacher. I order and restock supplies, keep things operational, and change out shelf materials, but I intend to eventually make ( materials available to the children to choose, giving them more agency in their Atelier.
- Q: How would you like to see SHP’s evolution and new spaces benefit other early education organization?
I believe the new spaces we are offering at SHP will result in direct positive change for our children, especially as we all navigate our emergence from COVID. The formative years (3-5) for many of our students was disrupted by COVID, and the evidence is seen everywhere in the school setting. The Atelier is a sensory rich environment with a lot of therapeutic materials, such as clay, paint, and light & shadow play. Our motor lab is run by professional occupational therapists, who serve as support to our developing students! I would enjoy hosting other early childhood programs to see how we at SHP are prioritizing the image of the child and dedicating spaces to ensure optimum development.
For more information about SHP's IB advantage, click here. To learn about The SHP Difference and what sets us apart from other childhood learning centers, click here. Admissions information is available here.