Toddlers learn about the life through their senses and motor exploration. Also interaction with their environment including people and materials, benefit for growth and development of toddlers. (Lally & Steward, 1990). Therefore, in early childhood environment teachers have a main responsibility in providing safe and suitable environment for toddlers.
Room space, age appropriate learning resources, access to outdoor activities, availability of different materials, air quality, lighting, toilets, windows, exit doors, availability of kitchen and food preparation area, hand washing facilities and fencing which satisfy health and safety needs are important aspects to consider when setting up the physical environment for toddlers ( childcare resource and research unit, n.d). According to Wardle (2008) toddlers should be provided safe place where they have enough space for playing, eating, sleeping, washing hands and diapering including toilets. When arranging play areas for toddlers it is important to keep in mind that they need different play areas for learning different development skills such as circle area, large motor activity area, small motor activity area, art area, block – building area, imaginary play area and book corner (Backer, 2006).
The early childhood environment concern the temporal environment, which means that the timing, sequence and length of routines that take place throughout the school hours (Zamora, n.d). Teachers should consider about individual needs of each child and understand that every group of children have their own personalities and what worked well in one year may not suitable for the following year(The Iris Center, 2010). Teacher should plan different activities ahead and have smooth transitions between activities (Vanderbilt education, 2008). Toddlers should be allowed to do high energy activities for instance running and also quiet activities such as reading books (Barbarin & Wasik, 2009). Also, toddlers should be offered cool down activities which help for transition between activities. For example: after playing outdoors, toddlers should be offered some water and read books before beginning the next activity (The Iris Center, 2010). Clean up time can also be used for transiting to next activity without stress (Vanderbilt education, 2008). Children should be informed the daily routines by posting the schedule and talk to them about the daily routines (Sure Start Program, 2009). Rather than following a strict schedule, teacher must be flexible according to each child’s individual needs. For example, if a toddler looks sleepy he should have a nap without offering the planned activity (The Iris Center, 2010).
When consider about preparing an interpersonal environment it is teachers’ responsibility to create the environment (Salend, 2011). Consequently, it supports the interactions that occur among peers, teachers and families (Salend, 2011). In a good social environment toddlers should be provided comfort and support to develop their social interactions (Corso,n.d). The well designed environment benefits both children and adults as it helps the children who have positive relationships with peers, create positive interactions with adults and children and give the opportunities to teachers to support children to have good social interactions with others (Virtual Lab School, n.d). When the teacher provides quality, consistency, timing responses to the toddlers they feel valued and respected which help to improve their confidence (Staples & Cochran, 2007). Teacher should plan variety of activities for large and small groups, provide teacher initiated and child initiated activities and provide different types of activities which lead to different social interactions (Corso,n.d). Teacher must interact well with families and get to know about how families provide social interactions for their children and inform them how to help children for social interactions at home environment (Corso,n.d).
Movement, comfort, competence and control are four basic principles which should be provided to the toddlers (Olds, 2000). They need sufficient activities for movements, feel comfortable in the environment, supportive environment to feel successful and encouraging environment to feel the sense of control within their personal environment (Klein, 2008).
When preparing an optimal learning environment for toddlers, teachers have to consider about preparing suitable personal environment, temporal environment and interpersonal environment which empower their learning and development throughout the toddler years (The Iris Center, 2010).
Backer, B. (2008). Manipulatives: Tools for active learning. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=123
Barbarin, O., & Wasik, B. (2009). Handbook of child development and early education: Research to practice. (1st ed.) New York, NY: Guilford press.
Childcare resource and research unit. (n.d). Physical environment. Retrieved from http://www.childcarequality.ca/sys/penv.html
Corso, R. (n.d). What can teachers do to make the classroom environment more conducive to children’s learning and development?. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/env/cresource/q1/p03/#content
Klein, A. (2008). Creating peaceful environment designs for the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=390
Lally, R & Steward, J. (1990). A guide to setting up environments infant/toddler caregiving. Retrieved from http://clas.uiuc.edu/fulltext/cl03267/cl03267.html
Olds, A. (2000). Child Care Design Guide. (1st ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Salend, S. (2011). Creating inclusive classrooms: Effective and Reflective practices. (7th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
Staples, R., & Cochran, M. ( 2007). Early childhood education. (1st ed.). West Port, CT: Praeger.
Sure Start Program. (2009). Sure Start program guide. Retrieved from http://www.dodea.edu/Curriculum/eChildhood/upload/guide_surestart.pdf
The Iris Center. (2010). Solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/env/cresource/q1/p04/
Vanderbilt education. (2008). Helping childrenmake transition between activities. Retrieved from http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/kits/wwbtk4.pdf
Virtual Lab School. (n.d). Learning environment. Retrieved from https://www.virtuallabschool.org/infants-toddlers/learning-environments/lesson-1
Wardle, F. (2008). Creating indoor environments for young children . retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=294
Zamora, T. (n.d). What is a progressive school?. Retrieved from https://teachertina.net/2008/11/17/temporal-environment-or-temporal-setting/https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2610859/Playing-puzzles-better-toddlers-learning-read-write-Psycologist-says-teaching-young-children-3Rs-damaging.html/ accessed 20/04/2020