Posted on Monday, May 20, 2019 by Dianne 2 minutes
There is no behavior apart from environment.–Robert Sommer
Hi friends! We are back again for another blog post here at HeadStart For Life’s Beyond Therapy.
Today’s blog article shares with you readers on how an environment speaks to children and how it can meet their needs and support their values and developmental goals.
As a teacher for young children here in HeadStart, I have experienced the importance of our students knowing where to locate items, what comes next in the day, and why they are participating in various activities provides structure and builds security. In fact, a welcome environment promotes desired learning and behavior where children feel accepted and part of the HeadStart family.
For parents, you have to make choices as you design your home environment that influences the quality of your child’s relationship to other people and to learning materials. In making these choices, consider these three basic questions:
Knowledge in child development can help you decide on the design of your home environment. Children’s developmental needs require that they move their bodies, interact, explore, and manipulate frequently. Children learn most naturally in four different ways – visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic and not only through paper and pencil tasks. Always keep in mind that an atmosphere of warmth and informality meets the social-emotional needs of our young children.
For toddlers: special areas for washing and changing to address self-care needs and easily supervised, cleaned and maintained space for play
For preschoolers: indoor and outdoor space for play; spaces for books, blocks, toys, art and play
For school-age children: spaces for table activities, reading, and soft areas for cozy cuddling, resting, and relaxing
Children’s home environment should be a beautiful place where attention to aesthetic quality means looking for ways to make aspects of the home harmonious such as color, design or eliminating the clutter.
Color: soft, light, neutral colors for walls and ceiling to focus children’s attention on learning materials
Furnishing: similar furniture group together and selecting wood rather than metal or plastic to promote the use of natural materials
Storage: use of baskets, storage tubs, cardboard boxes as storage containers
Decoration: mount child’s artwork and display at children’s eye level
To facilitate children’s learning, the equipment (e.g. furniture such as easels, climbing structures), materials (e.g puzzles, books, toys), and supplies (e.g. paint, paper, glue, etc.) being used provide the direction for children’s exploration, development, and learning. Through interaction with well-designed equipment and materials, children develop large and small muscles, concepts about the world, creativity, social skills, and self-awareness.
Furniture: must be stable, portable, have rounded corners and proportioned to sized of children in order for child’s feet can touch the floors and elbows rest comfortably on table tops.
Arrangement and Storage: materials for children on low, open shelves or storage and in labeled containers; materials used by adults should be stored out of children’s reach
The idea of arranging the environment into partial seclusion called learning activity area or workspaces allows children to concentrate and be exposed to work tasks. These activity areas can include sensory play area, reading area, art area, or writing area. Few samples are found below:
Sensory Play Area: usually found outdoor for children to learn properties of substances through pouring, feeling, and mixing using water, sand, mud, dough, clay, etc; if indoors set up near a sink so spills can be cleaned up easily
Reading Area: provide large selection of well-cared-for and appropriate books with covers visible; include soft pillows or a big chair or sofa where children can feel comfortable, quiet, well-lit often help them to learn the joy of reading
Manipulative Toy Area: includes puzzles, beads, Legos to practice hand-eye coordination, small muscles of fingers and hands; for primary children, this can include more complex games and toys such as board games, jigsaw puzzles exposing them to different concepts to cooperate, solve problems, and be creative; this area should be organized and with proper shelves/ storage that is easy to find and put away
The answers to the three questions above do not only share with us pieces of information on how to make our children’s environment work. They also educate us that designing a learning environment appropriate for our children is an ongoing process. Bear in mind, that we should always remain sensitive and observant to the changes our children go through as they grow and learn. Any setting can be modified and improved, based on the kind of experiences you want your children to have, which should be evaluated regularly to fit their needs.
Hope you are able to grasp some ideas on how to make your home environment work. Follow us again in our next blog post here in HeadStart For Life Beyond Therapy!
Feeney, Stephanie, et. al. 1996. Who Am I in the Lives of Children? New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.