Spaces for children

Young children bring their bodies with them wherever they go, and the physical development is a critical aspect of cognitive, social, and emotional development.” (p.56)

Young children learn with their whole bodies, in motion. If we limit their activity, we limit their learning. As children spend most of their early years in our programs, we have to continually raise the question: Are we providing enough places for their active bodies?
Of equal significance, when young children are spending most of their days in group situations, is their need to be alone, quiet, or with a small group of friends. Being in loud, large group environments can add to a child’s stress, sense of invisibility, and difficulty concentrating. Our environments need to provide restful places to gather emotional as well as physical replenishment. Children need get away places for small groups to explore their relationships and ideas without interruption.
Perhaps if we initially designed our spaces with more flexibility in mind, we could better accommodate the range of needed activities, and we wouldn’t feel so obliged to keep children from rearranging things to suit their needs.” (p.56)

“The arrangements and provisions in the physical environment create the context for the social-emotional climate and the quality of interactions among the people there.” (p.24)

Curtis invites us to consider these questions:

  • “What message does our environment give children about how they should use their bodies?” (p.57)
  • Are the indoor and outdoor areas flexible enough to be transformed for a variety of uses?” (p.57)
  • Where are the opportunities for individual children to get away from it all and relax?” (p.57)
  • how can we create a space where a small group of children can work without interruption?” (p.57)
  • Are we satisfied with our balance of open-ended materials and single-purpose ones?” (p.57)
  • Where can we add unusual loose parts for children to use, both indoors and outdoors?” (p.57)
  • “Where in this space can you learn more about each other and create more connections?” (p.24)
  • “How can children and families regularly contribute to the environment so that it reflects their values, interests, and lives?” (p.24)
  • “What elements might encourage family members to linger before leaving each day?” (p.24)
  • “How can you stay connected to the outer world while expanding your internal sense of community?” (p.24)
  • “Do areas of your environment feel institutional and need transformation?” (p.24)
  • “Could there be more softness throughout this environment? How?” (p.24)
  • “Does your lighting and choice of colors work to unify and highlight aspects of this space, or does it have a disjointed, distracting quality?” (p.25)
  • “In what ways can the environment convey the history of your program and a sense of what you value in it?” (p.25)

Ref: (bold blue emphases mine) Deb Curtis (2003?) Designs for Living and Learning

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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