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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET communicate or the effect they have on the children and adults who spend their days in them. Perhaps this omission accounts for the awe that engulfs most visitors to the Italian schools of Reggio Emilia where the programs are housed in aesthetically gorgeous spaces that most early childhood teachers and administrators from anywhere in the world would love to live or work in. At the same time, Reggio Emilia environments deliberately reflect the community’s values and beliefs about children, families, teach- ers, and the social construction of knowledge. Here’s how Lella Gandini (2002), author and Reggio Children liaison, summarizes their intentions in designing spaces. The environment is the most visible aspect of the work done in the schools by all the protagonists. It conveys the message that this is a place where adults have thought about the quality and the instructive power of space. The layout of the physical space is welcoming and fosters encoun- ters, communication, and relationships. The arrangement of structures, objects, and activities encourages choices, problem solving, and discover- ies in the process of learning. There is attention to detail everywhere—in the color of the walls, the shape of the furniture, the arrangement of simple objects on shelves and tables. While Designs for Living and Learning is not about the Reggio approach, Gandini’s description of “attention to detail everywhere” is what we hope to provoke with this book. From our experience, when educators recognize that the spaces they design for children communicate a set of values, they begin to plan their environment differently. To do this, you won’t just decorate or equip your room from a catalog, but rather, consider what equipment will communicate values such as trust and respect for children. If you believe children benefit from solving problems and nego- tiating conflicts, you’ll provide ways for them to encounter those opportu- nities in the environment, perhaps by using benches at tables, rather than only chairs for individual seating. You’ll recognize that learning doesn’t just happen in designated areas with labels such as “Science Area” and “Writing Center,” so you will offer opportunities for children to explore like scientists and find the value of reading and writing throughout your indoor and outdoor spaces. Making use of research on how color, light, and air quality impact feelings, behaviors, and well-being, you’ll begin to reassign how you spend your limited budget for improving and maintain- ing your physical space. You’ll remember that while the cultural emphasis is on getting them ready for school, the children who spend the bulk of their early years in settings away from home still deserve to have a rich and joyful childhood. When you listen closely to the stories that adults tell of their favor- ite childhood memories, you get a picture of an environment in which 20  [   Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL