The learning environment is created and maintained with the child in mind. The learning environment maintains a home-like setting with neutral colors, wood furniture, area rugs, and a large chair or love seat.
Creating a homelike setting lends itself to a smoother transition from home to school.
The wall space contains only enough items to consume one-third of the total wall space. The majority of the wall displays are child-created works. All other items are carefully selected and contribute to the aesthetics of the classroom. Reflect on the meaningfulness of all items that are displayed in the classroom. For example, birthday charts are not a valuable use of wall space and are out of context with a natural progression of time. The use of a real calendar throughout the year can be utilized to mark birthdays as well as other special dates.
The majority of children’s artwork and other representations are displayed at the child’s eye level.
Keep bulletin boards simple and attractive to the eye, rather than crowded and overwhelming. Bulletin boards don’t need busy borders that run the risk of overstimulating children and distracting from the beauty of the child’s work. Framing or backing art work with construction paper or matte board communicates respect for the child’s work and allows the work to stand out.
Display natural items near the bulletin board or in concert with another display of a child’s work, such as a display of small pumpkins near a display of fall collages or fall color paintings.
Use the following questions to survey and evaluate the display in your classroom:
- = Do children recognize that their work is being given special attention?
- = Do they use the displays to talk about the things they’ve done and still want to do?
- = Are your displays attractive to adults?
- = Are the displays attractive? How often are they changed?
- Well defined play centers are essential in a quality learning environment.
The configuration of centers within the room may remain constant or be periodically rearranged. Thoughtful reflections on children’s
engagement within and around the centers will dictate decisions about arrangement.
While it’s true that children need consistency and predictability, they also need program spaces designed with flexible options so that things can be moved and rearranged for specific purposes.
Play materials are accessible to children and foster creative thinking and explorations.
Within each play center, as well as throughout the room, provide ample materials from the natural world.
Filling your environment with aspects of the natural world can further soothe the senses and sensibilities of those present.
Natural fiber baskets and bushel bins can be used for storage in place of plastic bins. Shells, rocks, and interesting pieces of driftwood or marble can be displayed to invite observation and touching. Tree branches can be hung and large bark pieces mounted as natures sculptures. Gather collections of acorns, leaves, stones, and pinecones to display throughout the room. Offer calendars and magazines with nature photos to invite conversations and explorations about the natural world.
Play centers are strategically arranged to offer quiet areas as well as busy ones that are not in conflict with each other. Classrooms offer spaces for whole body movement and quiet isolation or retreats.
Materials within are open-ended, offering a variety of options for the developing child. There are enough materials to promote engaging play, but not too many as to be overwhelming. Centers are free from clutter and congestion.
The learning environment supports children at all levels of development and abilities. For example, the child in the process of developing self regulation is provided visual cues to support successful participation in the daily activities.
Visual cues are strategically located to support children’s transitions, independent skills, and social skills. Examples include daily schedule charts, charts showing the progression of dressing for snow play, and labels and photos on shelves to demonstrate the location of storage for play materials.
Successful learning environments are those that engage children from the moment they enter the room.
Children become naturally engaged when careful preparation is given to creating an inviting environment.