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Setting up a Learning Environment.

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Introduction

Setting Up Learning Environments Setting up a Learning Environment Infants and toddlers learn through exploring and coming to know and understand their environment. The physical environment in a group setting strongly affects children, caregivers, and their interactions. In infant/toddler classrooms without a plan specifically directed at supporting children's development, young children waste a great deal of their time either aimlessly wandering about the room or engaged in teacher-directed activities. In inadequately planned classrooms, children's engagement in self-directed exploration and focused play is impaired. When children are not appropriately engaged, aggressive behavior rises. In such an environment, she or he needs to pretend to be a police officer and guardian, managing behavior instead of facilitating individual and group needs. Exploring their physical environment contains a great deal of the "curriculum" for mobile infants and toddlers. We must, think about the impact of the environment on children and caregivers, and learn to plan spaces that contribute appropriately to children's development. Many classrooms are not designed to meet the developmental needs of infants and toddlers in-group care, nor do they provide teachers, in their position, as facilitators of children's knowledge and self-directed play. By contrast, a well-designed environment can have huge positive influence on the well being of both children and teachers. A well-designed environment is, of course, safe for infants and toddlers but, more than that, it supports their emotional well being, encourages their senses, and tests their motor skills. ...read more.

Middle

Cribs - Porta-crib; these cribs are recommended over full size cribs. Cribs should be combined in one part of the classroom (1' - 3' apart), instead of divided throughout the classroom. This plan will offer a more functional play area. Use low wall dividers or toy shelves, risers, and closed storage to divide off areas. 7. Diapering/Toilet Area - The diapering area and child's bathroom should be situated in the classroom, separated through half-walls or cutout window openings. This decreases the caregivers need to leave the classroom several times a day, while giving full visual supervision of all children in classroom. 8. Pods - A pod design is where one large room is divided into two classrooms through a combination of half and full walls. The middle area is a shared area, usually teacher support space for diapering, food prep, washer/dryer, teacher workspace, and storage. A pod design is less expensive than two separate classrooms, which necessitate extra plumbing and square footage. It also allocates for informal visiting of children and staff between rooms and trouble-free transitions for infants moving into a toddler classroom. 9. Sinks - Hand washing is vital to decrease the spread of illness among children. Separate sinks should be supplied for food preparation and diapering. Toddlers should have their own child size sinks in the classroom. Each classroom should have access to a sink nearby to the food prep area, a sink nearby to the diapering area, and a child size sink in the classroom for older infants and toddlers 10. ...read more.

Conclusion

Separate rooms, for napping, can incorporate low windows to allow teachers easy visual access. 19. Risers - Carpeted risers are essential pieces of equipment. They can be used to create "safe spaces" for young infants while older infants are crawling and moving about. They can also be used to define activity and circulation areas, or as a toy shelf, a safe balance beam, or a jumping platform. A 12"-high riser provides a comfortable seating area for caregivers, allowing them to observe and interrelate at eye level with the children, without having to spend their entire day sitting on the floor. 20. Other Equipment - Additional equipment and materials can include pillows (attractive and washable), hanging plants, fish, natural wood toy shelves, photographs of children and family members (covered with clear contact paper, laminated, or Plexiglas framed), wide full-length Plexiglas mirrors, and hammocks for rocking infants. (Hammocks have a preference to rocking chairs because they permit the caregiver to rock more than one infant at a time. Rocking chairs can really hurt an infant who crawls behind one in use; they also take up floor space, while hammocks can be taken off their hooks and stored when not in use.) Conclusion A developmentally designed environment supports children's individual and social development. It supports exploration, focused play, and cooperation. It offers variety for children and supports self-directed learning. A developmentally planned environment also supports the caregiver-child relationship. It reduces management and custodial activities, allowing caregivers more time for interaction, observation, and facilitation of children's development. 0 ...read more.

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