Hence, the question of providing quality care urns into how to plan and provide quality environment to children (Harrison, 1990). According to Agreement (1 988: 53), the important and indispensable role that environment plays in providing quality child care is described as follows: A well-planned environment can offer two essential contributions to quality care. First, it can provide children with appropriate and challenging learning experiences within a consistent and secure setting.
Second, it allows staff greater opportunity to become involved in meaningful, intimate interactions with children by reducing the time required for organizing and reorganizing the furniture, the room and the equipment. In this article, I look into the question of how to create a comfortable educational environment which is optimal for infants and toddlers’ learning and development by analyzing the setting of a Toddler Room in a child care centre where worked.
After thorough study, am able to provide a plan to redesign the room, which I believe, would better suit young children’s special needs and their unique ways of learning so as to benefit their future development in the long run. Description of the Layout of the Toddler Room The Toddler Room is designed for children under three years old. It is located at the very front of the centre. The physical layout of the room is depicted in Appendix 1. The Toddler Room shares one kitchenette, one storeroom and one change room with the Middle Room (children 3-4 years) next door.
Basically, the room is divided into two regions: dry and wet regions. The dry region, which is covered with carpet, serves as a cozy space for quiet play and sleep. The wet region is floored with tiles and is mainly used for children to have meals and do messy play. There are quite a few positive aspects of this room in regards to providing a safe and sound educational environment for hillside’s development and learning. For example, the room is organized and has plenty of storage space. All doors outside or inside the room have large pieces of glasses which provide a good visibility of the room.
There are plenty of windows to allow maximum natural light. Almost all furniture is made of wood. And there is a large yard right outside the room for children to play and explore. Upon entering the room, one could see a row of open lockers, in which store all children’s bags and other stuffs. The lockers are made of wood and each of them is labeled with children’s names and pictures for recognition. Usually two children would share one locker. The lockers are low to the floor and within reach of the children so that they can have access to their stuffs all the time.
An open environment with all area accessible to children is likely to encourage ownership and respect for resources (Arthur, Beechen, Death, Docket & Farmer, 2012). This area is also important in the sense that It gives children a clear sense of space, predictability and security. An entrance that is nice and delightful could sooth the separation anxiety of both parents and children, making them feel invited and welcomed to a place designed just for hem (Community Playthings, 2008). Beside the lockers there are two tables, which are equipped with portable child sized chairs.
All made of wood. When children are not having tea or lunch, the staff members would clean up the tables and put on toys and stationeries, such as puzzles, Play Doth plasticize, paper, crayon or paste. There’s a separate area for children to play right beside the door to the outside yard. Its front is blocked by a high shelf with some toys on it, such as phones and purses. And on the left side of it are several cots, which are placed on the carpet. So the only open end to this play corner is its right side. The potential of this area is yet to be discovered.
On the carpet, there are two pieces of adult furniture: the couch and bookshelf. They are placed in the middle so that the children can have a good reading on the couch. The walls in the carpet area are full of children’s works, pictures, family introductions, etc. One side of the carpet are occupied by three cots, which happen to block the windows behind. Beside the cots, there’s a small corner in which a high shelf was set up to place a CD player. Later, some toys were added this corner, such as play kitchen sets and food sets, making it an area for children to do dramatic play.
On the other side of the room, the staffs put a patch of synthetic grass and a basket full of animal shaped toys. There is also a low shelf in which stores some blocks, which made it an area for manipulative play. However, children don’t seem particularly interested in this area. Although the room is well-designed in some ways, it is still far from being an “identifiable” home like space which is ideal for young children (Diamond, 1979). In order to achieve optimal use of its limited physical space, it is obviously in need of some reorganization and improvement in some aspects of its setting, such as the carpet area.
Harrison (1990) contends that the child care setting should have clearly defined areas for certain activities and certain types of play, e. G. Active play area need to be clearly separated from quiet area. Young children learns from an environment which is “dependable, reliable, and has a clear sense of order” (Harrison, 1990: 8). An environment which caters to young children’s special needs and unique, sensory way of learning is more likely to make them feel comfortable (Harrison, 1990). As Agreement (1988: 74) has put it, A soft, responsive, physical environment reaches out to children.
It helps children to feel more secure, enabling them to venture out and explore the world. Most importantly, it allows children to make their presence felt, to leave an imprint on the world. Analysis and Redesign of the Toddler Room According to Isabel (2007), the first step in creating a suitable environment for infants, toddlers and preschool children is to understand how young children learn and develop. For example, Infants and toddlers learn through acting upon the objects and materials in their environment.
Therefore, the design of the environment must provide them with plenty of opportunities for physical exploration. Organization Harrison (1 990: 15) contends that the following factors should be taken into account by all centers which aim to provide quality care to children under three: The mastication of play space, by placing all storage on high shelves and planning for everything at floor level to be available to the children. The minimization of furniture and the need to move furniture. The division of the space into distinct areas for specific types of learning and play activities.
The inclusion of indoor climbing structures. Based on the listed factors, have redesigned and reorganized the carpet area and divided it into distinctive play zones so as to make it more stimulating and interesting for young children to explore. The cots were moved inside, leaving the windows unblocked. The high shelf with the CD player was moved to the right side of the cots. The couch was also moved to the front of the window, and the bookshelf put right beside the couch to replace the initial play corner. Adding a few low mattresses or furry friends along with the couch made it an inviting cozy corner.
This would be an ideal place for adults to do reading, singing, dancing and snuggling with the children. The dramatic play area was moved to the front of the cots where children can find play kitchen sets and food sets, cottage house and dress-up clothes. Beside the dramatic play area is an area for manipulative play. A low open shelf was added where toys, games and small wooden blocks can be found. All toys have to be separated, packed and labeled. Finally, in the corner, an active play area was set up which helps to develop young children’s gross motor skills. This was achieved by adding a corner enter with steps, or a few sensory mats.
Adding climbing structures inside the room can also prevent children from climbing tables or shelves (Harrison, 1990). These simple changes help to change the landscape of the play zone dramatically. I have reasons to believe that it would make young children feel more stimulated and engaged as it now provides them with a broader range of play activities to choose. As Jim Agreement has stated: The play environment should be developed as a wonderful, interesting place that continually captures a child’s attention and is laid out to ensure individual and group experiences. (Agreement, 1988: 54)
Aesthetics Aesthetics is an important factor when planning and designing an early childhood environment. It’s the first impression that families and children have towards our civvies (Arthur et al. , 2012). Also, the environment where young children live tells them how to act and respond. The arrangements and materials used are likely to determine how children would react to the environment. For example, they are likely to act roughly on hard plastic materials, whereas carefully examine and gently handle a beautiful flower arrangement (Isabel, 2007). Therefore, we are liable for making the environment clean, nice and organized.
An aesthetically pleasing space can help children to discover and appreciate the beautiful world around them (Isabel, 2007). Conclusion Through redesigning Of the physical layout Of the Toddler Room, I have made several changes to help improve and perfect this educational environment.