Learning Environments: An Introduction
Research tells us that children and youth learn best in environments where they feel safe and free to explore and learn, and where they have secure relationships with caring and responsive adults. A well-arranged environment can help you support the development of children and youth. This lesson highlights the importance of the environment and provides an overview of what to consider when creating and maintaining developmentally appropriate learning environments for school-age children and youth.
The Indoor Environment: Designing and Organizing
As school-age staff members, it is our job to make sure the indoor environment is thoughtfully designed and materials for play are well organized. This lesson highlights how to design your indoor environment for group activities, privacy, storage, and display, with attention to all learners. It introduces design elements that promote a sense of comfort and invite exploration and engagement. This lesson also examines how to organize materials for independence, easy use, and learning.
The Outdoor Environment: Designing for Learning
Learning occurs both indoors and out. An outdoor environment should be a place to run, play, and learn. This lesson will focus on designing safe outdoor spaces to promote learning, engagement, and active play.
The Environment: Materials
An effective learning environment requires both thoughtful design and developmentally appropriate materials. Whether they are in a full-day summer program or a before- and after-school program, school-age children need materials and an environment conducive to help them learn, engage, and have fun. This lesson will help you ensure that a variety of developmentally appropriate materials are available. You will read about how to choose materials based on cultural relevance and anti-bias, children’s interests, and learning goals.
The Environment: Schedules and Routines
The routines and activities that make up your program’s schedule are essential elements of your learning environment. Designing your schedule and space to support effective routines helps promote children’s and youth’s development and learning. This lesson will focus on constructing a schedule that is flexible but meets children’s need for routine and play.