‘There’s no place like home,’ says Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when desperate to go home to Aunty Em in Kansas.
The concept of home engenders a feeling of comfort, belonging, and relaxation. I envisage a family snuggled up on the couch with a blanket and relaxing amongst feather-filled cushions under the glow of a warm lamp while reading a good book.
But what is a ‘home away from home’ and what does it mean to Pachamama? How does it compare to other services?
I’m seeing a lot of services these days use this tag line in their marketing. What does it really mean to them?
It has been a part of Pachamama philosophy since early 2012, before the doors opened. Pachamama is a home away from home steeped in nature, creative and diversity.
Being home-like was a fundamental concept that the founders wanted to ensure that Pachamama truly represented as much as possible. Children spend so many hours of their formal education in an institutional-like environment with harsh overhead fluorescent strip lighting, sitting on plastic chairs under plastic desks, writing with plastic pens and using plastic computers with back lighting.
From my experience, Pachamama displays the meaning of a home beautifully. As a matter of fact, it is possibly more representative of home than many I have seen.
What stands out to me upon entering Pachamama are the lights. Now, these are not just any old lights. They are lights of all different sizes, shapes, colours and orientations. They are on floors, on tables, on walls, and hanging from the ceilings. They sparkle, they rotate, they twinkle, they glow.
You name it, and Pachamama probably has it … except fluorescent strip lighting! That is a big no-no at Pachamama.
There are stained glass floor lamps, bloated base table lamps, quirky industrial metal floor lamps, floating ball lights, Turkish ceiling pendants, sparkly bulb lights, fan lights, hand blown glass chandeliers, floating ice cube pendants, preserve jar pendant lights, salt crystal lamps, colourful gem lamps, antique-like table lamps, crystal lights, and many more.
There is even a horizontally hanging ladder with light cords wound around its rungs featuring all different types, shapes and sizes of interesting light bulbs.
The grace and wonder that these lights offer the children is spectacular. The calming atmosphere and ambience they provide from their glow is magical.
Lighting is fundamental to an environment and Pachamama’s lights make our environments engaging and uplifting.
Lighting benefits the children as visual comforts in areas and spaces where the children spend long periods of time. Light is important for the human eye and the nervous system, and good lighting affects both the wellbeing of the children and the educators. This is even more important for children who are in a heightened period of development.
Pachamama has the ability to change lighting options for transition periods, an important part of our routines. The change in lighting signals to the children’s nervous systems that it’s time to rest and relax.
The variety of lighting in our environments helps to create pleasant, comfortable atmospheres throughout the day. Research indicates that during a child’s first years of life they develop cognitively in the perception of space, progressively acquiring orientation and relational perspectives.
For this reason, it’s important to have light sources with a good chromatic reproduction that allow children to live and experience their surroundings through materials, shapes, and colours. Research indicated that this improves their cognitive development and relationship with their environment.
Most of Pachamama’s lights are made of fragile glass. The children learn to move around with care and consideration, treating the furniture with the respect that every home deserves.
This isn’t something I have found at other services, but I hope Pachamama can inspire through demonstrating that it is possible. The positive developmental outcomes for our children are worth the extra attention, effort, and cost.
Interesting, effective and physiologically-sound lighting is one way that Pachamama definitely upholds its representation of being a ‘home away from home.’