The Learning Environment

The physical environment should include appropriate indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance learning activities for children. The environment consists of the physical layout of the room, materials that children have access to and the overall sense of belonging.

Indoor Space looks like:

  • Natural light.
  • Children can look out the windows.
  • Plenty of space for children (max number at one time).
  • Child-sized furniture.
  • Cozy spaces – comfortable spaces, quiet, calm, peaceful.
  • Displays on the walls relate to children.
    • Individual children’s work is important.
    • Wall displays are incorporated into children’s learning.
  • Pictures of children and families.
  • Space for gross motor inside.
  • There are enough age-appropriate materials for the number of children in the space.
  • Materials are appropriate for the age and development of children in the room.

Outdoor Space looks like:

  • Ample outdoor space with a circular pathway.
  • Outdoor spaces should be utilized for learning experiences.
  • Natural elements are included in the outdoor space and are being used for play and learning. (For example, logs, plants, trees, etc.)
  • Children spend time outside daily.
    • Preschoolers: 90 minutes or more for a full day of care / 45 minutes or more for a ½ day of care.
    • Toddlers: 60 minutes or more for a full day of care / 30 minutes or more for a ½ day of care.
    • Infants: Taken outdoors two times or more for a full day of care / taken outdoors 1 time or more for a ½ day of care.
  • At least one half of the playground should be shaded.
  • Include 8 play areas or more (sandbox, climbing structure, easel, musical instruments, etc.)
  • Six to eight portable play areas are available (balls, push toys, ride on toys, ribbons, parachutes, balance beams, portable tunnels, sticks, rocks, shovels and pails)

Take these questions with you to ask child cares to learn more on the topic of Learning Environment

  • How much time do children spend outside?
  • What is your policy on weather and outside play?
  • What do you notice is the children’s favorite thing to do outside?
  • Do you have an area for indoor play when children can’t go outside?
  • How many children can be in this space at one time?
  • How do you determine what materials you provide for children?
  • Does my child need any extra clothes for outdoor play?
  • Will my child have their own space for storing items from home, like extra clothing, book bag, coat, etc.?
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