In early learning settings the environment is not only defined as the physical placement of furniture, and materials it also includes the caregivers program, the noise levels, even the socio-emotional aura. Setting up your classroom is a key aspect of programming and provisioning the environment to suit the children's needs and fostering emerging skills.
The space in which these children spend the majority of their days influences their behaviours as well. Our young children learn how to act and respond based on their learning space. For instance, openness in the centre of the classroom may invite them to run across the area.
In terms of toys and materials, if few materials are available to use, children will create interesting happenings, including conflict. Variation and actual quantity of materials is key in creating a classroom that is effective and safe. If materials are hard plastic, the children are invited to be rough with the objects with little concern for their treatment. When a flower arrangement is on the table, they will learn to visually examine the flowers and gently handle the delicate material. Children learn to be respectful of their environment if they have opportunities to care for beautiful objects and materials essentially giving them the benefit of doubt.
Additionally, a variety of music and instruments can expand the sound world of young children, while developing musical enjoyment. Singing in circle time and during transitions encourages the children to discriminate sounds and identify familiar patterns. Not only the physical act of playing music or singing songs aids the play environment, but the music you choose to play during free exploration has a grand affect on children’s behaviour. For example, in one of the toddler groups, when the children were being overly excitable and perhaps aggressive, the caregivers chose to switch out the hyper cd to one that they use during sleep time. This slower pace, relaxed music took down the level of noise and stimulation for their hyper behaviour.
Children respond differently, based on the design and feel of the environment in which they live. An effectively designed classroom and program has the potential for positively influencing all areas of children's development. Basically, the best learning happens in a nurturing environment that plans appropriate opportunities. This environment can support the development of behaviours that are valued in our society, such as cooperation and persistence.