New spaces for new faces

I think most teachers and educators would agree with me when I say that New Years Eve is Labour Day not December 31st. In educator-land, as autumn approaches, it is a mark of a fresh start. A classroom refresh to create an inspiring  environment for the children and the educator is a great way to start anew.

In the Full Day Kindergarten Guide, we offer the following practical tips to make Kindergarten environments more inviting. Inspiring K classrooms have the following characteristics:

  • A comfortable atmosphere. Soft areas with rugs and cushions will help children feel more comfortable and can also absorb the sound of noisy play.
  • Displays of children’s artwork. Displaying children’s artwork in a variety of places that extend beyond the classroom into hallways, including at low levels, will enable children to see their creations.
  • Culturally relevant materials. Materials should reflect the communities and cultures of the children in the class. To ensure these are authentic, teachers should consult with parents, other family members, and local cultural organizations, as well as with designated experts or advisors. For example, every BC school district has an Aboriginal Education coordinator who can provide information about local Aboriginal protocols, including any specific permissions that may be required to use or display cultural materials in the classroom.
  • Attractive and aesthetic appeal. The Kindergarten environment should be appealing to the senses with colour, light, and textures. Both bright colours and pastels can be appealing, as well as soft and hard textures, but too many colours and textures can over-stimulate the senses and make it difficult for children to focus.
  • Open-ended activities. Activities that are open-ended allow children to carry on their learning through multiple days and to add their personal interest to activities. Allow space for children to keep their long-term projects.
  • Varying levels of stimulation. Ensure the environment has places for both noisy and quiet activities.
  • Cozy, quiet spaces encourage intimate conversations.

 In the StrongStart BC Operations Guide, we suggest the following to create a welcoming environment for both the children and their families.

  • A Home-like Atmosphere – Providing soft areas, such as couches, rugs, and cushions, arocking chair for nursing, and adding a coffee or tea station, can create a sense of warmth and familiarity. This home-like setting will help people feel more comfortable in a school program. Soft furnishings can also absorb the sound of noisy play. Displaying children’s art in a variety of places, including at low levels, will enable children to see their creations.
  • Attractive and Aesthetically Appealing – the StrongStart BC environment should be appealing to the senses with colour, light, and textures. Both bright colours and pastels can be appealing, as well as soft and hard textures, but too many colours and textures can make it difficult for children to focus due to over-stimulation of the senses.
  • Open-ended – Activities that are open-ended allow children to carry on their learning through multiple days and to add their personal interest to activities. Allow space for children to keep their long-term projects.
  • Varying Levels of Stimulation – Ensure the environment has places for both noisy and quiet activities.Cozy, quiet spaces encourage intimate conversations among children and adults and allow for calm interludes between more boisterous activities.

Discussion:

  1. As early years educators, what are your favourite ways to create an inviting and inspiring space?
  2. What does your class look like?
  3. Where do you pull your inspiration from?