British Early Years Centre : Building An Environment The Reggio Emilia Way

“To make a lovable school, industrious, inventive, liveable, documentable and communicable, a place of research, learning, recognition and reflection, where children, teachers and families feel well – is our point of arrival. (Loris Malaguzzi – founder of first Reggio Emilia school)

We first learned about the Reggio Emilia philosophy when we came across British Early Years Centre (BEYC), in Saphan Kwai. At the time, we were considering schools for our daughter and we were curious to see what this alternative style curriculum offered.

Our goal was to find a school which understood the value of incorporating nature into our development. We were looking for a school which was environmentally conscious, and could recognize the unique beauty within each child.

Our DNA says we are all unique human beings, yet most schools around the world still treat people as the same. So for our daughter, we were looking down the “alternative” route when we stumbled across BEYC. Upon our first trip there, the impact of the environment was immediate.

The outdoor garden is incredibly detailed. Every detail, every “provocation” inspires creativity and imagination. It is a profound sensory experience, with different textures available at every turn, from water to wood, from hay to silk.

There are tall trees and an abundance of flora grown within their magical garden. A sandpit, a climbing wall. There are natural “loose parts” are available in every area – a hallmark of the Reggio Emilia way. Three giant rubber tires, small, wooden beads.

As we walked around viewing the classes in action, we saw striking works of art on the walls made by each child, such as planets made out of sea shells. Discussions were taking place between groups. The foundation kids were playing a sensory game with water, kindergarten students were running up to us, eager to showcase their project work.

Then came the most impressive thing of all. A class of 4/5 year-olds were presenting work to their classmates and teachers, talking about their work in surprising detail – CONFIDENTLY. The decision was made, this is the kind of environment we wanted to see our little girl flourish in. A Reggio-inspired environment, which empowers children and cultivates confidence.

“What we really love (about the Reggio way) is that children are encouraged to make choices to ‘create’ independently, with a partner, in a group, or with a teacher. It’s up to them. If things don’t go as planned, they have a choice to try it again, or to try something else.”

“Our teachers emphasize the importance of trying something again and practicing a skill, but what is most important is that they are in control of their learning.” BEYC

The resources and the child-led philosophy is where BEYC lends from the Reggio style. Like Reggio schools, BEYC view children as thinkers, as active participants in their own learning journey. 

The original Reggio Emilia schools are, of course, in Reggio Emilia, Italy. A wonderful place on earth, where a new, child-oriented philosophy emerged out of the rubble of World War 2. A philosophy that has inspired schools worldwide. A way of thinking that says: children have extraordinary potential which can only flourish in the right environment, and with all the adults, parents and teachers, working together.

BEYC have a learning environment rich in inspiration, full of “provocations”. These provocations are present in any Reggio-style school. Provocations are materials deliberately placed by teachers to spark the child’s curiosity and create a starting point for discovery.

“We believe the most beneficial aspect of the Reggio Approach is two-fold. The first is independence. This comes from children making independent choices. From this, the they learn important social, emotional and life skills.”

“The second is the freedom of creativity, where there is no right or wrong. This paradigm gives the children confidence. And confidence is everything.” (BEYC)

“We implement the ‘Reggio way’ through the environment, provocations, materials, support, communication, and observations.”

“The greatest thing about this is the confidence that we see develop in the children as a result from having the freedom to express themselves creatively in whichever way they feel happiest, at any moment in time.” (BEYC)

Fortunately, there are multiple schools emerging in Bangkok, which implement the “child-led” philosophy in their own, unique way.

We like to think of BEYC as a learning paradise, filled with passionate, joyful educators and of course, run by confident, independent little legends all blossoming in their own, unique way.

 

  • Location: British Early Years Centre- International Kindergarten and Preschool
    Address: 19/2 Soi Inthamara 3 Sutthisan Winitchai Rd, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400
  • Phone: 02 616 9342
  • Hours:  Open Monday-Friday 8.30AM – 5.00PM

The Little Treehouse Nursery: Learning with Balance, Sustainability and Nature

There are few good stories to come out of this year, but one is certainly the story of The Little Treehouse Nursery.

The founders, Renika and Tricia, had their plans to build their dream, green school interrupted by the Global Pandemic. Facing the same heartbreak so many have faced during this time, they decided to go through with it, despite the whole process being hindered in many ways.

“We just thought, if we don’t do it now and follow through, we will keep on putting it off. So – it was very challenging, but we got it done – somehow!”

Under strict social distancing, they pursued the development of their space in Thong Lor, which has needed immense renovations and redevelopment. They sought to create their nature-inspired, homely paradise for children in their early years.

“We are both teachers and mums and wanted to create a homely atmosphere for the kids, which, for them, could be like a second home.”

The result is just that. The Little Treehouse Nursery feels like the big house you loved to visit when you were younger! Your friend’s house which was so much more fun than yours.

They have excellent facilities, natural light beaming into the classrooms, a beautiful garden playground, and perhaps the most impressive feature: the “sensory playground”.

In this atmospheric space, there is grass turf laid out, a wall of plotted plants, a sandpit and a bamboo wall. Here, children play activities with water and sand to engage their senses. Children absorb more information when their sense are engaged, and The Little Treehouse Nursery believe a child’s education can’t be separated from nature.

“Our philosophy is to nurture children who have an awareness and appreciation of nature, because we believe that nature gives us all the sense of balance we need in our lives.”

This nature-inspired philosophy runs right through the school, and is reflected in the kids’ food menu too. They get homecooked, plant-based meals.

“There are not many nature-based schools here in Bangkok, but we want our kids to be in love with nature. Our menu is plant based and me and Tricia have been plant based our entire lives.”

The Little Treehouse Nursery have grown to around 20 children, and they have space for another 40. The passion from the owners is evident, and they’re constantly making improvements to the interior. A child’s learning environment is a key player in them reaching their learning potential, and The Little Treehouse Nursery are very aware of that.

The facilities and learning tools, which are sourced internationally, as well as locally, are impressive and varied. These include a range of “loose parts” and Montessori style learning materials. They have a room dedicated to art projects, and their own little library.

Each child’s “learning journey” is recorded, and updated every two weeks with new pictures and comments from the teacher. These portfolios are very meaningful, and, as parents, it was very heart-warming to flick through them.

It’s amazing to think that this school would be regarded as an alternative, niche school. Environmental consciousness is not yet widespread, but it’s a rising force in the world and it’s time to get on board. Children can learn to care for the world around them from a very early age and The Little Treehouse Nursery recognize this – it’s part of their vision.

“Our goal is to create a green school, and instill sustainability into children from a young age through hands-on activities. One example of this is our compost bins. We teach children the journey of a flower and how it grows, and how we have a part to play in the continuation of life on this earth.”

You can find The Little Treehouse Nursery on Soi Thong Lor 19 and they currently have an open house. If you’re contemplating options for your child, and you’re interested in a nature-inspired “green school”, contact them via the link below!

  • Location: Soi Thong Lor 19
    Address: 41/2 Soi Akhraphat, Khlong Tan, Watthana, Bangkok 10110
  • Phone: 089 922 5667
  • Hours:  Open Monday-Friday 8AM – 3.30PM

Playville: A Pristine Indoor Playground in Thong Lor

Playville is one of the most impressive, nature-inspired play areas in Bangkok. The interior is modern, minimal and absolutely beautiful. There is an uplifting mood to the place, which is created by the bright colours and the smooth wood. When you are inside this lovely little children’s world, you feel clean, safe and the children are highly engaged with the environment.

      

Best of all, wood is the main material of choice, with most of the apparatus and toys being wooden – a lot of them made by Plantoys. This gives Playville a natural aura. The people behind Playville have a clear attachment to nature and that shines through in the design.

The slide is an epic, smooth slide – so much fun. The ball pool (nice and clean, transparent colour) is a joy for all. Getting up to the top of the slide requires a physical climbing challenge, we love this feature!

Our daughter is a very keen climber, and she needed to use her brain, and strength to figure out how to get up to the top. It’s all very safe and the watchful eyes of the Playville staff are always present. Once our daughter had completed this challenge for the first time, of course, her confidence grew and she couldn’t wait to tackle it again! This is excellent design work by Playville.

To our daughter’s delight, there are also climbing blocks and there is a dedicated role-play kitchen zone, sandpit, and lots of little puzzles inspired by the Montessori method of education.

In summary, for an indoor Bangkok play area experience, this ranks among the best in town. It’s ideal for early years children, and supports the growth and development of our little ones whilst the engage is blissful play.

  • Location: Playville, Sukhumvit 49, Bangkok
    Address: 8, 3 Klang Alley, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110
  • Price: Walk-in indoor playground
    • Weekday : Kids 350 baht / 2 hour free and adult, next adult 100 baht
    • Weekend : Kids 350 baht / 2 hour, Adult 100 baht.
    • No reservation for walk-in
  • Phone: 02 297 0091
  • Hours:  Open everyday 9AM – 6PM

Sweet Poppy: A Family Haven In Nonthaburi

The greatest discoveries lie beyond our doorstep, and in Bangkok, the beyond is usually 30-45 minutes drive. Nonthaburi may look a distance on the map, but in fact, once you’re on the highway, it takes no longer to get there than a journey to Asoke for most Bangkokians. So, hit the highway and make your way to Soi Samakee, where lies the imaginative jewel in the north of Bangkok, Sweet Poppy. We stumbled across Sweet Poppy thanks to a review in BKK MENU. We visited the venue, and spoke to the Australian owners.

Sweet Poppy’s vision is to offer great mostly organic food served with Australian style service – friendly, relaxed, yet efficient. This allows our customers to feel most at home, and to connect with each other and enjoy those special occasions – whether it’s a simple coffee with a friend, a birthday party, an anniversary or just some time to themselves.

Sweet Poppy

This is space is so well designed, it inspires, relaxes, and invigorates all at once. There is an abundance of refreshing, green bliss to be enjoyed in Sweet Poppy’s spacious garden kingdom.

Sweet Poppy is inspired by the famous café culture of Melbourne, Australia. The atmosphere is super chilled, with kids in their element, utilising the various play areas on offer within the grounds. This is not a frantic playground (like many I have experienced in Bangkok), it’s a peaceful oasis.

Sweet Poppy make full use of their magnificent space by organising events and hosting parties, making themselves a home for various communities.

As a large events space, we are able to host community based events like pilates/Hi-Fitness, arts classes, art exhibitions in our Studio and Sweet Poppy Field.  We will continue to host Guest Celebrity Chefs from Australia, introduce a seasonal menu rotation and offer different kinds of events. As a local business, we also support other local business with their offsite program needs for corporate meetings and team building – as an alternate to a regular hotel setting.

Sweet Poppy

There are multiple areas for kids to roam, with huge sand pits, swings, and a playground built out of wood.

The imagination of Sweet Poppy reveals an attention to detail which you can truly feel, as you watch your child become immersed this magical place.

It’s not only children who will appreciate Sweet Poppy, they provide an environment and a menu which is tailor made for adults to unwind, enjoy the excellent quality food and drinks, and have a rare opportunity to think. Sweet Poppy is a stress-free zone.

As for the food and drink, Sweet Poppy focus on quality over quantity. All delivered to a very high standard, and the price reflects the quality of ingredients used. It’s a place you’re willing to spend extra, for a high quality experience.

In the Nonthaburi area, there is limited choice of Western food, and nothing organic. This was selected as a suitable location for a truly Australian experience – simple food done well, organic where possible, a great space for events, families and activities, an in house bakery, and a store that sells special homeware from around the world.

Sweet Poppy

The on-site craft store sells hand-made products from around the world including pottery, postcards and paintings – and is well worth a look around. I managed to find some exceptional craft beer, a New England style IPA, in their cute little beer fridge.

Upcoming events at Sweet Poppy:
Guest Celebrity Australian Chef Charlie Carrington

Charlie will use organic, locally & sustainably sourced ingredients to serve a modern, exciting, Melbourne 5 course menu full of flavour – for two nights only

Sweet Poppy

Bangkok Families: Pumpkin Art Town

Pumpkin Art Town is the newest in a growing trend of picturesque family destinations in the surrounding areas of Bangkok, where kids can play, and parents can relax, have a beverage and eat good food. This space, located in Prathum Thani (45 minute drive minimum and three tollways!), has a strong focus on nature, with impressive trees, a pond, a cactus house, and a restaurant hugging the Chao Praya River.

The natural setting provides tranquility in its atmosphere and is perhaps the strongest reason to make the journey to Pumpkin Art Town. The playground is pleasant and basic, and some of the equipment is quite old, such as the car my daughter enjoyed driving (below).

Pumpkin Art Town prides itself on variety, with on-site accommodation, a Craft store, a restaurant, a space for party bookings, and perhaps best of all, Art and Craft workshops for families to enjoy together.

The three types of workshop available at Pumpkin Art Town are: Fiber Art Workshop (weaving, sewing), 3D Art Workshop (making things from play dough) and Basic Art Workshop (painting pots, making tote bags, creating visual displays with paper.)

Most the apparatus are made from wood, with climbing walls, rope bridges, sand pits, and swings all giving kids plenty to stay occupied. It’s not a huge playground space, so it can get quite chaotic on a weekend. It’s big enough though, and the fact it’s engulfed by nature is a major positive.

The menu in the Pumpkin Eatery restaurant is nicely varied, some Thai and international dishes. The prices are OK and the standard of food is also fairly good.

In summary, Pumpkin Art Town is a long way from central Bangkok, but there are some strong reasons to visit this space for a family day out. If your child is hyperactive like mine, just prepare some entertainment for the long car journey! For more picturesque family settings around Bangkok click here.

Little Legend rating (out of 5):

  • Location🌟🌟🌟🌟
  • Play equipment/Toys: 🌟🌟🌟
  • Restaurant (service, menu, quality): 🌟🌟
  • Travel Convenience: 🌟
  • Activities: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟