From classrooms arranged in neat rows of small chairs to free-flowing spaces offering varied activities, the learning environment is a crucial part of the early learner’s daily experiences. How a school intentionally plans its physical spaces says a lot about its philosophy and how it approaches teaching and learning.
It has become clear in recent years that children are most engaged in their learning when they are not sitting in one place for most of the day. Young children need movement and stimulation. They need frequent changes of focus and position; they may prefer a quiet corner one minute and a busy play area the next. Beautiful, inspiring spaces that allow students to be comfortable, to center themselves in their learning experiences, and to have variety and choice will keep kids enthusiastic and happy at school.
Connections to nature are also important. If we want young children to care for the world around them, it is important to bring the outdoors inside. Biophilic design seeks to integrate nature into urban settings, Young children need movement and stimulation. They need frequent changes of focus and position; they may prefer a quiet corner one minute and a busy play area the next. and the benefits have been extensively researched. When visiting a school, consider how the learning environments connect to nature and the outdoors. Have natural light and ventilation been optimized? Are there views to nature, sky, and trees? Are natural materials and colors used in the learning environment? Look for landscaped areas that might be used as retreats or community spaces.
- May I see a variety of your learning spaces, including specialist classrooms, lunch and snacking areas, and playgrounds?
- How does your educational philosophy match with your physical settings?
- If you were to redesign your learning spaces, what would you change, and why?
- Why have you chosen to set your learning environment up in this way? Tell me about your choice of materials, colors, and furniture.