When children are young, their environment plays a major role in how they develop. Since toddlers spend most of their waking hours in the childcare setting, it’s important to provide an environment that supports their development. Keep in mind that safety should be the most important thing when you’re arranging your classroom for optimum toddler development.
A safe environment will allow kids to roam about freely, and take advantage of all the sensory experiences the classroom has to offer. Also, focusing on safety keeps you from constantly saying “no” to toddlers because of dangerous surroundings. Instead, you can spend your time encouraging them to explore their environment.
Once you have the issue of safety worked out, use these room arrangement tips to maximize toddler development.
• Provide space that encourages movement and exploration. Toddlers learn thorough sensory exploration. This is why they need space to move around and actively explore. You can encourage young kids to move around the room by having open pathways, tunnels, low steps, climbing blocks, textured surfaces, slides, hammocks, low lofts, play houses and balance beams inside of the classroom.
• Set up the room so it encourages toddlers to make choices. Keep toys and learning materials on low shelves to make it easy for toddlers to decide what they want to play with. Housing toys on low shelves also makes items easy for toddlers to retrieve without assistance. If you break your classroom up into learning centers it will give toddlers plenty of activities to choose from.
• Leave open space in the classroom. Toddlers need open space to walk around, roll, and do other things that work their large muscle groups. Leaving open space also give tots a place to stand and observe everything that’s happening in the room. Don’t leave too much open space; it may cause toddlers to wander aimlessly and make focusing on one activity difficult.
• Provide space for messy activities. Sand and water play, painting, coloring and crafting allows kids to explore their creative side while they learn about themselves. Having an area complete with nontoxic paints, markers, and other creative materials is essential for toddler development. Ideally, messy areas should be near a sink to make cleanup easier.
• Provide space for toddlers to snooze.Sleep is an important part of helping toddlers develop properly. So naturally, they will need a place to nap. The nap area should be quiet and free from clutter and other distractions. In classrooms with limited space, open areas can double as nap-time areas.
• Provide space for toddlers have alone time when they need it. Being in a group setting for up to nine hours a day, five days a week can take a toll on toddlers. Providing a small space such as a canopy or a comfortable corner where a child can go to get away from the chaos can reduce stress and give him time to regroup. Quiet areas can also double as reading nooks for kids who want to look at a book or work on puzzles.