Posted on 03/20/2015 at 01:23 PM by Liz Determan
In the Creative Curriculum for Preschool, Volume 1 The Foundation it states that teachers who are aware of the power of the environment arrange the classroom purposefully to convey the messages that they want children to receive. Let’s look at some of the messages we want to convey.
To send this message “This is a good place to be” you want furniture to be clean and well maintained. You want wall decorations to consist mostly of children’s art, which is displayed attractively at their eye level and with large spaces of blank wall so as not to be overwhelming. The room should include decorative touches, such as plants, displays of collections (e.g., shells, leaves, and stones), tablecloths or fabric-covered pillows, baskets, interesting artifacts and framed artwork. Bright colors should be used selectively on neutral-colored walls to highlight interest areas or mark storage areas.
To send the message “You belong here” ask these questions. Does each child have a cubby or basket marked with his or her name and picture for keeping personal items? Is furniture child-sized and in good condition? Do pictures on the walls, in books, and in other learning materials include people of different ethnic backgrounds and economic means, people with disabilities, nontraditional families, and women and men in a variety of jobs? Do materials, equipment, and furniture enable all children to be involved in all areas of the classroom? Displaying and protecting children’s work, having materials that reflect the children’s home lives and cultures, and displaying pictures of the children with their families also helps children to feel like this is a place they belong.
“This is a place you can trust” is communicated when equipment and materials are arranged consistently so they know where to find what they need; and when shelves are neat and uncluttered, and materials are labeled so they can make choices easily. Also, having a well-defined illustrated schedule prominently displayed so children learn the order of daily events and know what to expect, and having smooth transitions through those daily events, helps children to feel comfortable with their setting.
You say to children “There are places you can be by yourself when you want” when you provide a small quiet area in the room to accommodate one or two children or a large pillow or stuffed chair in a quiet corner with minimal displays. Providing headphones for a CD player, tape recorder, and/or computer also enables children to listen individually.
To send the message “You can do many things on your own here” materials should be stored on low shelves and located in areas where they are to be used, and they are organized logically (e.g., drawing paper is near the markers and crayons, and pegs are near the pegboards). Shelves should be labeled with pictures and words that show children where materials belong and should be in the home languages of the children. Having illustrated job charts so children know what their responsibility for the day is and displaying photographs of children doing interesting things also helps them to do things on their own.
Sending the message “This is a safe place to explore and try your ideas” is done when children can work in smaller well-defined areas with a couple of children, and materials are close and they are out of the way of traffic. They also are quicker to try things out when they have things like smocks to protect themselves from messy materials, interesting and attractively displayed materials, materials that are rotated frequently and they are informed of changes in the environment. And, not only adults, but children also feel safer when the outdoor area is fenced and protected.