Some Together, they play a significant role

Some people may see the
environment as insignificant, but for teachers, parents, and educators it is
something that needs to be considered as a high priority. In the context of Early Childhood
Education, environment has more meaning. It is way beyond than only physical
things. There are four different kinds of ECE environment; physical environment
(the equipment, materials and the facilities available), the temporal
environment (timing, activities), and the interactional environment (nature of
teachers, style of interactions among them) Together, they play a significant
role in children learning and education.

 

 

Indoor Physical environment

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The design of the physical environment is
influenced by program goals, and curricula objectives as well as the age of the
children. The infant classroom can contain eating, sleeping, diapering, and
play areas as primary spaces for activities. Infant play area are designed
bearing in mind that babies need spaces that they can grasp and reach
age-appropriate toys or pull themselves up when practicing standing or walking.
Also infants will need to be down on the floor exploring their environments
with toys to look at, listening to things around them, feeling, chewing,
pushing, pulling, stacking, rolling, turning, squeezing, and shaking.

The physical environment for a toddler classroom
has eating, napping, diapering, toileting, and playing areas. Play continues to
be very important, and learning centers become more obvious for this age group.
Areas are subdivided into dramatic, block, art, library, manipulative, and
science learning centers. Toddlers need spaces that allow them to experiment,
explore, and discover things around their environment. They are constantly
moving or on the go and need many opportunities to practice newly emerging skills

Outdoor
Physical environment

Children gain enormous benefits from
learning outdoors. Ideally they should have access to outdoor space on a daily
basis. Being outdoors allows them to move around and use all of their senses to
appreciate the outdoors. Being outdoors supports confidence and allows
opportunities for big scale play, problem solving and creativity in the company
of other children. Physical activity and children’s use of language is also enhanced.
Resources used for outdoor play don’t need to be expensive. Old tires, some boxes
and blankets will stimulate imagination and can be used in a number of ways for
play. 

Large areas of grass can allow
infants and toddlers to lie, crawl, and roll. Tricycle paths can be used for
Big Toys, tricycles, scooters, balls, jogging, and wagons. Climbing equipment
for infants and toddlers should be very basic, including a crawling tunnel,
small steps, and a slide. Because toddlers are very insecure on their feet,
special attention should be paid to barriers, the railings and sides of raised
equipment. A variety of sloped areas can help children to learn to adjust their
balance on differing surfaces. Although it is important to encourage specific
motor skills such as fine and gross motor development, it is more important to
support the development of the brain and nerve functions and growth. Thus
rolling, crawling, running and climbing, and swinging on swings are all
absolutely critical activities for young children.

 

Temporal environment

The term temporal environment refers to the timing, sequence, and length of
routines and activities that take place throughout the day. It includes the schedule of
activities such as arrival, playtime, mealtime, rest time, both small- and
large-group activities, and the many transitions that hold them all together. Schedules should not be mechanical in
nature; instead it should have order and predictability to create a sense of security and
help young children to learn about their world, help them to adjust to new
situations and prevent challenging behaviors. For example, establishing the
routine of reading a book together every day in the same cozy corner of the
room can help a child to prepare for the difficult separation from her parent.

 

Schedules should also accommodate
children’s need to have times to engage in high-energy activities as well as
more quiet ones, and these should be alternated throughout the course of the
day. Doing this is one way to help prevent challenging behaviors. For example,
teachers might consider following a circle-time activity that involves a lot of
sitting with one that allows more movement. Further, the amount of time
children spend in any type of activity should be based on their age and
developmental levels.

 

Schedules can meet unique needs of the
program, children, families, and staff. Different families have different routines. Asking families about their
routines and schedules and trying to incorporate the ways that they care for
their very young children creates cultural responsiveness and continuity
between the program and home

Interactional
environment    

The term refers to an environment that influences or supports the
interactions that occur among young children, teachers, and family members. It is determined by what is happening in the
space. Do the children feel belonged? Does the space engage children in
exploration of materials? Will the child be supported? A well designed
interactional environment, nurtures children physical, aesthetic and emotional
growth.  The appropriate environment can maximize children’s
intellectual potential and provide a foundation for the development of her
emotional security. The element of nurturing caring Educarers is another
critical dimension in an interactional environment. A caring and a responsive
Educarer, provide a positive climate for young children impacting their
emotional and cognitive abilities, Children who are secured will explore and
try new things in the environment confidently.  
To create a
classroom environment that supports positive social interactions, teachers need
to plan activities that take the following into considerations:

Group size: children should
spend time every day in different kinds of groups. Activities suited to large
groups include circle time, story time, meal times, and outdoors time. Small
groups allow more time for interaction with individual children and are ideal
for observation and learning of new skills. Additionally, small groups offer
more opportunities for Educarers to facilitate interaction with children.

Child and teacher initiated
activities: A learning environment’s daily routine should include both
teacher-initiated and child-initiated activities. Teacher-initiated activities
are those that the teacher plans and leads, such as story time or a small-group
learning activity. Generally, a child-initiated activity is one that allows
children to follow their interests and have the opportunity to choose activity
on their own. This can help teachers to identify children’s areas of strengths
and interests.

Material and activities that
promote interaction: Activities, games, and toys that require two or more
children to participate have been shown to promote social interaction. Different
types of materials promote different types of play and social interaction. For
example, building blocks may allow children to play in a group, dramatic play
area might be more appropriate for a small group, and a game of duck-duck-goose
requires a large group. (See appendix for sample of daily schedule)