As a childcare provider, you strive to provide the children in your care with a high-quality learning environment where they can learn, have fun and, of course, develop social skills. While there are many ways in which a provider can look at creating a learning environment for children, here are some excellent starting points to keep in mind when developing and improving your child care facility.
1. Create Order And Remove Clutter
Part of developing appropriate learning environments for infants and toddlers is to give clarity and model the importance of cleanliness and organization. While children themselves will have their own tendencies when it comes to maintaining order, it’s important that clutter doesn’t inhibit the children from fully experiencing the learning environment that you’ve created!
Some child care facility organization tips include:
- Separating toys by kind of play, or by times of day that children would gravitate towards them.
- Create boundaries for play using visual cues such as area carpets or bookcases as dividers.
- Look for short shelves, colourful bins and baskets, and other accessible furniture that children can still safely access.
- Creating a learning environment in terms of removing clutter is possible as well! Consider implementing a regular cleaning time and even make it a game, such as the 10-Minute Tidy!
- Depending on the age of the children in your care facility, you can also consider creating a learning environment with labels, either with easy words or pictures to help children organize especially during their 10-Minute Tidy!
Not only does a child care organization help you create an efficient setting for your team, but it also helps in creating a positive learning environment for the children in your care.
2. Ensure Comfort
Wherever possible, provide children with a small space of their own for their belongings, such as a cubby for their coats and bags. This can be small, but a significant sense of comfort for children as it is a constant throughout their day at your child care facility.
Additional ways to create a comfortable learning environment for children as mentioned by the Department of Early Education and Care include:
- Lighting considerations such as dimmer switches for lights and strategic placement of lighting to emphasize and de-emphasize areas of the playroom.
- Where possible, modify ceiling height and, more broadly, space size to help in creating learning environments that are comfortable and nurturing.
- Visual boundaries (such as curtains) around designated play areas, which create structure while also providing privacy and comfort.
Even children need some alone time, especially when they are surrounded by a group of other children. A good way to provide comfort and design and space with the children in mind is to create a child quiet place that is a small, somewhat enclosed space with room for only one or two children.
3. Ensure Health And Safety
As a child care provider, you are no stranger to the ways in which children can find themselves in unsafe situations. In order to operate a safe and positive child care environment, here are some steps you can take:
- Effective locks and latches on windows, cabinets, doors and off-limits rooms.
- Be aware of household items that may be unsafe for the children in your care.
- Pay special attention to nap areas and remove any potential hazards.
A more subtle tactic for creating a safe learning environment is designing cozy and well-defined play spaces, which tend to discourage running indoors. In contrast, wide-open areas often lead children to use the space for rowdy play.
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4. Include Children In The Creation Of Their Environment
Creating a positive environment for children also means including them and considerations of their development in the design of the space. Examples of a child care environment that is designed with children in mind:
- Include colorful photographs and the children’s own artwork displayed at their eye level.
- Base the design on the developmental needs of the children and accommodating their individual differences.
- Arrange the space in a way that encourages children to make choices from a variety of available activities.
- Arrange the spaces so children can move around easily (and safely!) and easily access the equipment and materials.
- Children love to hear their favorite music when they arrive at your program. You may even want to ask the children what music they would like to listen to!
- Offer a variety of quiet and active play activities to meet the needs of all the children and their moods in your care.
- When possible, offer books and activities that cater to modern children’s interest, such as specific characters or themes.
5. Provide Support, Praise And Feedback
Providing support and developing appropriate learning environments for infants and toddlers takes careful thought and deliberate actions. There are, of course, many ways in which children can be supported through verbal communications, including:
- Encourage children to make choices from a variety of activities that the child care facility has available.
- Clearly communicate rules and ensure children have an understanding. Maintain these rules and provide direct, compassionate feedback when a rule has been broken.
Non-verbal forms of support and feedback to keep in mind when creating a learning environment include:
- Efforts to plan and develop the learning environment so that it is full of concrete experiences.
- Create challenging play experiences and develop clear spaces that promote acceptable ways for children to behave.
- Create structure with the use of routines that coincide with the children’s developmental abilities.
No matter what tactics you decide to use in your child care facility, the main objective is to use developmentally appropriate child guidance and positive reinforcement strategies when creating a quality, positive learning environment for children.
6. Provide Discipline When Necessary
Developing an appropriate learning environment for infants and toddlers also means providing discipline when necessary. While strategic and mindful discipline tactics are necessary, discipline begins with establishing boundaries. Discipline then comes in when boundaries are broken. Outline a discipline policy and ensure that parents are aware and consent to it.
A discipline policy should include these elements:
- Clear expectations
- Consequences such as time away or compassionate verbal warnings and guidance.
- Open communication with parents
Creating a quality learning environment for the children in your care allows you to engage with the aspect of your business that matters most: the children. Stay up to date on the latest in child care best practices and efficiency tactics by subscribing to our blog!
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