Climate and Environment
in the Developmentally Appropriate
Early Childhood Classroom
Before you purchase furniture, set up your classroom or create your lesson plans, you need to reflect on the climate you want to set. If you're looking for the magic pill for challenging behavior, know that there are 5. (1)The Classroom Climate, (2) Environment, (3) Developmentally Appropriate Activities and lessons, AND (4) Routines (5) Planning for transitions.
The climate is...YOU! Are you warm and welcoming? Are you organized and have planned routines you will establish? Do you welcome parents into your program/classroom? Are you a good mentor/leader to your support staff? Do you refrain from gossip and discourage it among other adults in your classroom/program? Only when you've determined your role can you begin to plan your environment and lessons
When planning your environment you must take into consideration the age, mobility and needs of your incoming children. INFANT TODDLER classroom need warm rugs on the floor and soft furniture and spaces, with an open area for indoor gross motor movement. PRE-K classrooms need clearly defined centers which are planned to keep quiet areas separate from more active areas, and avoid "runways" (large areas children can run through.) Use furniture to delineate spaces. Bring in "homey" touches like wicker bskets, table clothes, plants (make sure they are non-poisonous!) Bring bits of nature indoors too!
The Term Developmentally Appropriate practice is thrown around in Early Childhood, and is not an easy concept unless you have taken courses or trainings in DAP. Knowing what is appropriate for a 2 year old vs a 4 year old is very important. Knowing an incoming 3 year old we struggle to understand may not need a speech referral, but time with us modeling and encouraging language is important. Understanding a 2.9 year old cannot wait in line, or sit still while you find that book you were going to read... If you do not feel you have a strong enough background in DAP, attend trainings, take an ECE class in it at a local college. Most importantly, PLAN with your children's interests in mind and with intention to meet the NAEYC and State Standards.
Routines are the 4th magic pill. At home Bedtime routines are imperative for a child's health and development. In school a set schedule and established routines are the roadmap to success for you and the children. Young children are not given many choices throughout their day. They are told what to do almost constantly. "Get up, brush your teeth, get dressed, get in the care, get out of the car, hurry up! etc..." When children knnow the paramenters, the guidelines, the rules, and know what to expect...what is coming next... they will be calmer, less stressed and more open to learning. For information to help you plan for Transitions in your daily schedule go to my Transitions page