Impact of the environment in a preschooler's learning
Infants and toddlers learn a lot from the environment they are in. It is afterall where they receive and take in new information. Therefore, the environment, both physical and people, have a great impact on a preschooler’s journey of learning. While childcare centres may not change their physical environment all the time, the environment is usually changed at the start of the year due to the change in the students. It is also possible that the centres may change in the middle of the year during a spring cleaning session to make the environment more suitable for the children that are in the class. The people in the environment also play a part. That is why teachers assigned to a class usually want to stay with their class for the whole of that year. Some centres may also have arrangements for the main teacher or homeroom teacher to move up to the next levels with the students. Of course, the fundamentals of the physical environment is that it must be a safe place for infants and preschoolers to learn. In this article, we will share some pointers that childcares will take note of when planning the environment in which parents can use them for their own home environment.
Quiet corners (also known as cosy corners or calm down corners) can be a common area in classrooms as they provide some solidarity moments in an environment where there are so many people. As each child’s personality is different, some children may prefer to engage in solo activities compared to group activities. Having a space like that will allow them to have a small corner in which they feel comfortable. They can simply come in the form of a small corner with shelves placed in a way to block out a small space. It is then usually further decorated in a way where the space is very inviting and aims to make one feel comfortable staying there for a period of time. So it can be decked with cushions placed on the floor and used as backing so it feels nice when sitting on the floor. Soft materials like stuffed toys and blankets can also be added to that area. The lighting for that area may use softer lighting like yellow light or natural lighting instead of white light. You may also use a tent or use a light material that covers the area, making users feel that they are the only ones in that place and others can not look into the place so easily. As it requires just a small area, around the size where one child can lie down nicely, it does not take much space to create this quiet corner, making it possible even if our house may not be too big. The purpose of this quiet corner is to provide a safe space in which toddlers and preschoolers can have some me-time to think through about their actions or their thoughts. Sitting in this area can help them calm down if they are feeling too heated and give them an area to cool down first. So even for families with one child, it is still a good area to set up. However, do not mix this up with a time out corner (a form of punishment used to separate a person from the place where the undesirable behaviour occurred). The quiet corner should not be a place for them to feel punished and toddlers and preschoolers should have the freedom to be able to go to this place when they want to.
There are other good areas to set up within the home. One example would be a library corner. Like the quiet corner, a library corner does not have to be a big space but it should be a comfortable and inviting one. A small mat with a small cushion along with a small bookshelf may be sufficient to create this library corner at home. It could also be combined with a quiet corner by placing the books in that area. While toddlers may not be able to read the books, it is still possible to set up the library corner with big picture books or books that have sensory elements in it so that is still age appropriate. Creating a library corner may require quite a bit of resources in terms of books, especially as they grow older and require different types of books. There is no need to purchase these books to create the corner. The current quota for physical book lending is at 16 books which is quite a sufficient number. The only drawback in this arrangement is the constant need to visit the library to refresh the books. However, it is a cost efficient and environment friendly solution. A visit to the library with our toddlers and preschoolers is also a way to spend a weekend and they can also exercise their own choices in borrowing a book that they would like to read. This is a good habit to cultivate from young and this library corner can continue to stay and expand even as they reach schooling years.
While we mentioned some areas that require less space, some of the other areas found in a childcare centre may require a little more space. For example, a wet area may not be permanently set up at home due to space constraints, but it can be possible to temporarily set up a boundary to mark a space to have some wet play activities. On top of the physical setup of the environment, the other crucial point to take note is to ensure that the environment created gives them a sense of safety. The environment they are in is a warm place where they feel comfortable to have trial and errors, to make mistakes and to be able to face their failures positively. The non-physical element of the environment also plays a great part in the growth and development of our toddlers and preschoolers.
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Nurture Infant House (2 to 18 months Infants)
Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-61 Singapore 520433
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Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-63/65 Singapore 520433
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