Aimi Drechsler, from The Early Years Academy, discusses the important things to consider when setting up enabling environments, particularly during the current uncertain circumstances.
1. Define your vision and philosophy
As the Head of Childcare and Education at The Early Years Academy, I ensure our vision and philosophy of creating awe and wonder in every moment is at the forefront of my mind when purchasing new resources and equipment.
As a company, we strive to use versatile and authentic resources to create unique spaces. These spaces open the world to our children through enriched environments that become alive with possibilities. This is why Consortium and TTS are one of our first choices.
2. Link the environment to children’s needs and interests
When setting up rooms and outdoor spaces, it is vital to have environments that are linked to our children’s interests. But it’s also important to provide provocations and invitations to learning to spark curiosity.
We have been inspired by a range of philosophies, including The Reggio Approach. This approach places a huge emphasis on the environment as the 3rd teacher. That is why we feel the setup of the environment is critical to our children’s learning.
Currently, children are experiencing a lot of change. We think that having strong environments is key to happy, settled children. It’s important to do research before creating environments to ensure they are well planned and thought-out. Always have in mind consistent, safe and stimulating spaces.
We use adaptable, open-ended statement pieces such as The Outdoor wooden Enchanted house to create cosy book areas in our baby rooms. Or a fairy garden outdoors means that our educators are able to support children of all ages as they grow and develop.
3. Include open-ended resources
Open-ended resources are those that have no fixed use or purpose. They can be combined, transported, and moved indoors or outdoors. They have endless possibilities for a range of ages and developmental stages, such as the nesting wooden small world houses and the tiny town wooden houses. This makes them a perfect choice for creating enabling environments.
Essentials, such as active world discovery tuff trays and adjustable active world stands, are an invaluable resource in all of our environments, both indoors and outdoors. It is important to provide play spaces that can be accessed at different heights, this can be something as simple as using a pallet.
4. Transform a room through lighting
The use of lighting can help to soften environments. We used projectors and fairy lights to make areas cosy and comforting. Projectors help to transform spaces particularly if, like our Derby nursery, you have grand rooms with high ceilings.
Amongst the soft lighting we like to set up various provocations in our environments. For example, at the moment we have a real tea set in our home-corner to strengthen children’s cultural identity.
The A4 illuminated mark making boards have become a valuable light-up resource within our settings. The children use them every day to help support learning in all areas.