A Nurturing Environment

The essential task of the teacher is to create the proper physical environment around the children. “Physical environment” must be understood in the widest sense imaginable. It includes not just what happens around the children in the material sense, but everything that occurs in their environment, everything that can be perceived by their senses, that can work on the inner powers of the children from the surrounding physical space.

—Rudolf Steiner, The Education of the Child

The air children breathe, the light they see by, the words and sounds they hear, the food they eat, the water they drink, the feel of the clothes they wear, the things they play with, and the attitudes and emotions of the people around them all affect how they grow, develop, think, feel and behave.
Children absorb and imitate what they experience in their environment. Their exterior environment molds their interior environment.
The Educational House aims to active each of the children's senses by a natural spontaneous invitation to collaborate with their environment.
The awareness of their senses (Sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing) will enhance their approach to their community and quotidian activities, building their confidence and consciousness of the purpose of their actions.

It is important to keep the children's creativity and intelligences working all the time. This is why the presence of wise and inspiring phrases (some of them in different languages/alphabets), paintings, great leaders of the world portraits, beautiful photographs, flowers, colours, textures and shapes are essential for the house decoration.

All children need to feel that their world is a safe place where they can be themselves and develop all their skills; they need to feel like they belong to somewhere. A sense of belonging has been found to help protect children against mental health problems and improve their learning. Children who feel that they belong are happier, more relaxed and have fewer behavioural problems than others. They are also more motivated and more successful learners.
The Education House, as the name suggests, will be a familiar welcoming space: a Home. We will have pictures of the children as part of the family, and their birthday dates on the wall reminding us to celebrate them.
Celebrations; the practice of rituals will also contribute to this sense of belonging and self-confidence. Our House will celebrate multicultural rituals (Chinese and Thai new year, Indian Holi festival, Day of the dead in Mexico, Inti Raymi or "the festival of the sun" in the South American Andes, etc.) and our own rituals we will create with our own history.

The division of activities by rooms helps to create respect for a specific repetitive practice. Children need structure and repetition. It is very important to create and do the same things they've done before. Structure and repetition gives a child security, stability and a feeling that everything is good.
The Educational House has rooms for developing all the senses and each room has its own function:

- (1) A sala das Historias (The stories room): Senses: Hearing and touch.
This is the main room of the house. This is where, aside from the storytelling, the discussions, subject introductory talks, beginning and end-of-the-day conversations will take place. The manipulation of objects during/after the storytelling will transport them to the world where the tale belongs, linking objects with cultural rituals and habits due to their sense of touch.

- (2) A sala do Sabor (The flavour room): Senses: Smell and taste.
As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh observes, we can see and taste the whole universe in a piece of bread. It's important to understand not only our food nutritional value, but also its process and origin in order to appreciate more what we eat.
Our kitchen will be more than just a cooking place; it will be one more classroom in which the children discover new flavours and smells. One of our games to develop the appreciation of these two senses is covering the children's eyes making them guess what they taste/smell.

- (3) A sala do Silencio (The silence room): Senses: Hearing and sight.
At least once a day, the children will enter the silence room in order to connect with themselves and truly LINTEN. By recognizing each of the instruments playing in a recorded song, five-minutes silence listening the outside nature and listing what they hear, contemplating a painting and its details, or just reading silently will balance their mood, feeling free to use this peaceful space whenever they need quietness.

- (4) A sala da Criação(The creation room/art room): Senses: Sight and touch.
This is where all the pencils, paintings, cardboards and the rest of materials will take place. A big table in the middle of the room will provide comfort and a sense of companionship. The poetry and illustration sessions will be taken in this room.

- (5) A sala da Mente (The mind room): Senses: Sight and touch.
This is where the library will take place. Books from all over the world (mainly in Portuguese, but also in many other languages) will encourage them to read and write and appreciate the simplicity and value of a book. This is also an open space for the community to encourage themselves to learn what there is out in the world. In this room there will be jigsaws and other board games, wooden sticks, bricks and dolls for the imagination and psychomotor development, as well as the familiarization with numbers (additions and subtractions).

- (blank) A sala da Purificação (The purification room/toilette): Personal hygiene education.

- (6) Espaço de Exposição(Exhibition area): Their creations (paintings, hand-made objects, sculptures, etc.) will be openly exhibited in order to show and celebrate their achievements and skills. The community will be welcome to appreciate the monthly exhibitions we will organize based on a specific topic we have chosen throughout the month (according to the stories we tell and the culture we are studying by then).

- (7) Casa na árvore (Treehouse): Children love to feel they have their own little world, where they can hide and feel safe. Perhaps because they feel bigger, or because they can see and reach everything in a reduce space, but whatever the reason is, they love it and they feel comfortable in it.

- (8) Horto (Vegetables-growing garden) The process of growing will enhance the children's patience and sensibility.

- (9) Roda de Capoeira: Community participation.

- (10) Palco (Stage): Performances by the children will be set on the stage every six month, inviting all the community to be part of it and learn a little bit of history through our stories.

- (11) Office: Keeping the management and private life separated from the children's learning process.

- Others: Story nights by the fire, possible Henhouse and/or dog, wild birds home-made feeders (the importance of animals in children's life), home-made fountain, mosaics.