The project’s identity
Ponzano Children Early Childhood Centre started during the 2007/2008 academic year and is aimed at pre-school children from 9 months to 6 years of age.
It is an educational and cultural environment where nursery and preschool come together to provide children and their families with the opportunity of a continuous educational experience. This allows an intimate and familiar relationship with the environment and the people that inhabit it. This experience was created by the Benetton Group after listening and talking to the local community.
Conscious of the ethical and social role required of an advanced enterprise, the Benetton Group has undertaken to create an educational facility centred around the relationship, experience and wellbeing of the children and the community.
To do this, the Benetton Group sought the consulting of Reggio Children and it worked with it in order to set up the educational and organisational project of Ponzano Children Early Childhood Centre.
The architectural side of the project was entrusted to Alberto Campo Baeza.
The Early Childhood Centre is open to Benetton Group employees’ families, to the families living in Ponzano Veneto, in accordance with the agreement with the municipality, and to the families of the residents of other municipalities in the area.
Moreover, Ponzano Children Early Childhood Centre is licensed and accredited by the Veneto Region with a rating of 100/100.
The pedagogical project of the Early Childhood Centre refers to the values of Reggio Emilia nurseries and preschools, but it also reflects on the local context, on its identity and on its experience.
With a coexisting nursery and preschool, the Early Childhood Centre aims to create a continuous educational path from ages 0 to 6, supporting the idea that childhood is a fundamental, unique and precious life time.
The values of Ponzano Children
Early Childhood Centre
The child at the centre
The main feature of the Early Childhood Centre is its child-centred approach, together with its quest for opportunities and developmental material.
Our idea of a child is that of an active organism that has within it all the potential needed to develop by experiencing rich settings, occasions for exploring different ways of expressing oneself and different languages.
Childhood is a time of great potential where children, through relationships and experiences, can start to build up their knowledge and express their personality.
The hundred languages of children
Given that children have a hundred languages within them, it is up to adults to listen to them, recognise them, enhance them and encourage situations where their potential can emerge.
Atelier and mini-atelier are places that can support some of the children’s many ways of expressing themselves, such as by drawing, painting, handling and shaping and body language related to movement. Atelier and mini-atelier are intended as “workshops”, part of the bigger workshop represented by Ponzano Children Early Childhood Centre itself. These workshops encourage encounters and experiments with materials and tools that welcome and support the children’s various forms of expression and symbolic languages. In the Atelier and mini-atelier children, teachers and parents can meet; the projects started in the classrooms find a natural “sounding board” here for continuous development, rests and restarts, also aided by the presence of the atelierista.
The atelierista is a professional figure with an artistic background whose role, in the Early Childhood Centre, is to enhance the research and documentation on the multitude of children’s languages with new knowledge and new sensitivity.
For me, being an atelierista means, above all, learning to accept complexity as a resource, doubt as a possibility, diversity as richness: it means carrying on being a witness to and participating in the children’s investigations and discoveries, continuing to be moved together with them. It means moving your hands, head, body, heart and thoughts together, just like children do. (Michela, atelierista, Ponzano Children)
A school with a hundred languages, which recognises children’s skills and their curiosity to explore reality through multiple perspectives, must also strive to create a multilingual context that sees the coexistence and the interweaving of languages and cultures other than Italian. In the Early Childhood Centre you will find people with specific skills who, together with the entire team, develop experiments around this topic. The aim is to make English and other languages part of the everyday life of the children in a spontaneous and playful way. The team’s attention is focused on the way in which children come across different sounds and words, how these are mixed and intertwined into everyday experiences and what attitudes, expressions and thoughts are inspired by this multilingual setting.
Nutritional education at the Centre
Scientific findings confirm that it is important to reflect on the quality of nutrition and food.
From the very first days of life, children eat to satisfy a physiological need but, at the same time, they discover the tastes, smells and colours of food and then, together with other children, they experiment and learn to make their own choices.
The Early Childhood Centre can emphasise the idea that nutrition is health, pleasure and culture, by paying attention to the origin of food, the way it is produced, the seasonal nature and the typical characteristics of the products consumed at the Centre. Ponzano Children Early Childhood Centre made a very important decision to have its own on-site kitchen, where meals are prepared based on a menu that has been approved by the local health authority, which works on a four-week rotation and uses organic foods. Fundamental educational value is provided by the everyday relationship between the cooks and the children and the chance to experiment in the kitchen with them.
Lunch time is also an opportunity for both infants and preschoolers to be together and reinforces the idea of the Early Childhood Centre as a living environment.
The kitchen can and does become a sort of open workshop, which can support the special projects of adults and children alike, special events and nutrition-themed evenings with parents.
Food is art.
You can live food, you can colour it, grow it, breath it
and it makes us feel good… together
Ponzano Children Early Childhood parents
The Early Childhood Centre recognises the fact that parents are important stakeholders in the educational project; they have a right to play their part in a wider context than just the family, where they can compare, observe different developmental models and strengthen their confidence in their ability to raise their children. It is therefore important to provide times and places to meet with the families during the school year.
In addition, family participation is also encouraged through the use of a “Quality Measuring” tool. Parents are asked a series of questions which allow them to express their level of satisfaction regarding the services offered by Ponzano Children Early Childhood Centre. Through this tool they can also make suggestions.
Families can use the “Reflections box” to leave written messages anytime they feel the need throughout the year. The working team will periodically take these messages and acknowledge them in the shortest time possible.
The first opportunity to experience the environment and the educational project through speeches by the staff and a tour of the Centre.See photos
The children and their families meet and start to explore and experience the Centre.See photos
Class group and individual meetings
Teachers and families get to know each other and meet to discuss educational projects,
teaching methods approach and school relationships dynamics.
Evenings in the kitchen
Parents can experiment with the cooks in the kitchen, then everyone has the pleasure of dining together.See photos
Parents and teachers discover the true value of making a handmade Christmas gift for their children.See photos
The Christmas Party, the Party for Working Parents and the Summer Party.See photos
Teamwork and the adult’s role
The teacher takes on the role of a researcher and works alongside the child: the teacher’s role is not only to create and suggest settings where it is not only the final outcome that matters, but also to observe and listen to the children’s learning processes, both individually and collectively. Teamwork is a melting pot of different points of view which enhances and creates culture and research.
Documentation is “listening” that is made visible; it is the use of slides, videos and texts to show the children’s learning paths and processes. Documentation allows comparison, reflection and evaluation of the learning settings.
Teacher training and updates are essential for a project that aims to make research an enduring attitude for both children and adults.
The Tempo Lungo is an extended day service provided Monday to Friday from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. While providing continuity, this service also has its own identity: it is attended by a mixed group of children and follows a different programme from the morning. The children follow daily rituals, play and take part in activities and some “special” events that make it truly original. It is a unique opportunity for the children as they experience the environment in a different way, feel part of the day that is ending and discover new things.
The Early Childhood Centre is open, from September to June. In addition to the Summer Programme in July, the Centre can also open for the first and last weeks of August, on request. The Summer Programme is a new stage: it makes the most of the continuity and consistency of the children’s experiences throughout the year, combining it with the original and specific nature of summer.
The rhythms, spaces and moments that make up the everyday life of ordinary days are transformed by summer, they absorb its warmth and colour and the scent and the sounds of the season. It is a period in which projects have been concluded; some children are going on holiday, and we hear the first “goodbyes” and “see you in Septembers”. Those who are left can sense that something has changed, they feel the air of a new season that invites them to go and relax in the sun.
A holiday feeling envelops the Centre and the summer days take on a special atmosphere, with new things in the spaces and new activities. The rooms rid themselves of the previous year’s activities and take on a new identity; the groups of children are mixed and the activities are related to the theme that has been chosen for the summer.
Organization of the staff
There are 21 staff members in Ponzano Children Early Childhood Centre. They are divided as follows:
11 full-time teachers
2 part-time teachers
2 full-time atelieristi
2 full-time cooks
3 full-time helpers
1 part-time helper
The staff has been selected based on the qualifications required on the numerical ratios imposed by law and also according to a mechanism of alternating weekly shifts. This ensures the presence of the staff throughout the entire day and gives the teachers the possibility of working together. We consider teamwork as one of the main factors in providing an optimal service.
The Centre welcomes children Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm; flexible arrival time is between 7:30 am and 9:30 am.
From 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm, children can make use of an extended day service, called Tempo Lungo.