Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Importance of Early Childhood Environments

Environments that form positive, nurturing surroundings for early childhood development is very essential when regarding children. The more positive the environments are for the children, the better. This is because children are exceedingly likely to develop better skills when fostering environments incessantly excite and arouse them, which allows them to develop in good health. Children all deserve an equal opportunity when learning at such a young age because they ought to have the very best that this world has to offer. Therefore, as teachers it is crucial to present children with classrooms that provides an inviting living for them. The space that is used must contain elements of an environment for a sense of belonging for the children because it ensures them to use their creativity to the fullest and actively learn in the classrooms when they are in their personal comfort zone. These conscious efforts by staff will ensure their growth as children because they have such an amazing imagination, that it would be a waste if teachers did not provide their children with a suitable area. Reinventing positive environments are very important for children because many environments that are designated for early education need improvement. This consideration will help build more positive, feasible elements into programs to improve the deficit environment.
Contrasting Environments for Early Childhood Development:
A child needs to be comfortable in his or her own environment in order to benefit from early childhood programs. The vision is to create a sense of belonging for children so that they can connect strongly with the environment that surrounds them. Children learn best when exploring and playing with other kids. Therefore, they need to be embraced by bright, shiny colors that may be displayed in pictures and paintings around the room to feel like they can be comfortable to engage with body movement and sensory exploration. What is the purpose for children to develop such traits when they are so young? According to Mary Louis Hemmeter, a publisher for the National Association of School Psychologists, “The capacity to develop positive social relationships, to concentrate and persist on challenging tasks, to productively communicate emotions, and to problem solve are just a few of the competencies young children need to be successful as they transition to school” (Hemmeter, 1998). Children need to experience this smooth transition when shifting from home to school because it is the only way they will ever adapt to the educational settings that prepare children for the adventure of life.
Identifying positive environments allows for the creation of strong connections between children and a sense of belonging for them so that they can react and respond to the specific elements that make them feel at ease and enthusiastic to learn and know more each day. Adding bright colors and a variety of other colors in collaboration with the rest of the space given is a needed element to engage children visually. Classrooms should not be boring or basic when examining whether the space is suitable for children. Learning centers need to have excellent visual representation and designers need to use common sense so that everything is available for the staff and children when needed. They need to be safe, organized, predictable, and easy to clean up for when a particular activity is finished. The space needs to be utilized to the fullest because typically, there is not much space to work with in most classrooms. Therefore, this environment needs to have flexible space so that kids will have a more accessible opportunity to play with open-ended materials. Take a look at this picture to get an understanding of what flexible space in an early childhood environment should look like:
These pictures are examples of a writing center and reading center in a classroom that I found from the website url: (www.meadowlandsdaycare.ca/ philosophy.html). Table 1 portrays a classroom that contains desirable space containing appropriate colors, organization, and cleanliness. Table 2 shows a reading center that is designed perfectly so that children can intake what they need to while they are reading at this orderly learning center. In my own opinion, small architectural work such as the circular window in Table 1 gives a different perspective for children when they are present in the room. I believe small things like this is important for children because it allows their imagination to develop because they are more likely to think “outside-the-box”. For example, if all the windows in the classrooms were only square and rectangle, it limits the kids’ imagination because they are likely to accept that most windows are rectangular. But if the room has a circular window, children can let their imagination run wild, which may trigger different thoughts and ideas that windows can be any shape.
Environments that need improvement are those that contain non-flexible areas that are not simple to transform for other uses (balance of open-ended materials) and spaces that provoke interruption with learning, playing, and other elements that can make a child uncomfortable. Transformation must be considered if programs represent this because the priority of the space if in the child’s interest. For example, if furnishings and other items in the spaces provided are all at the same levels, heights, and perspectives, then the space needs to be reevaluated. This brings up a serious issue because what are the negative effects if early childhood settings are not improved? According to Kazdin and Kendall, behavior problems among children may need to be considered. They state, “The early emergence of behavior difficulties and the potential number of children exhibiting difficult behavior creates a challenge in promoting social and emotional competence in early childhood settings. Of the children who engage in problem behavior at a young age, it has been estimated that fewer than 10% receive appropriate services for these difficulties” (Kazdin & Kendall, 1998). This statistic allows us to recognize the seriousness of the issue because many children may pursuit rebellious behaviors if the setting is uninviting for them. Therefore, a plan to improve the deficit environments that are widespread in today’s society is something to keep at high priority because children are the most important and delicate form life roaming the earth. This contrasting environment should not exist for young children, but sadly, it is reality and these necessary steps are required to better these programs to make a more positive, nurturing environment for early childhood development.
Alison & Donna. (2005). Meadow Lands Day Care. Website Images.
www.meadowlandsdaycare.ca/ philosophy.html.
Hemmeter, M. L., Ostrosky, M., & Fox, L. (2006). Social and Emotional Foundations for
Early Learning: A Conceptual Model for Intervention. School Psychology Review.
35 (4), 583-601.
Kazdin, A. E., & Kendall, P. C. (1998). Current progress and future plans for developing
effective treatments: Comments and perspectives. Journal of Clinical Child
Psychology, 27, 217-226.