Classroom Set Up for Optimum Toddler Development

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.

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3 Responses to Classroom Set Up for Optimum Toddler Development

  1. Pearl says:

    I am new (2months) at this christian facility. I’ve been blessed with a group of children 2- 2.5 yr old. They have had little to no consistency, teachers moving left and right over a years time, nothing stable except a schedule, if that? The young 2′s we’re separated shortly after my arrival because of their cognitive level naturally but now they’re back after 2 weeks & i guess it’s permanent! I just got my older 2/young 3′s on track and I feel like i’m back to square1:( I only have experience in Montessori methods and now being at a “preschool/daycare, I’m trying to figure out how to control my 11 boys whom are loud & wild and throw toys, drop & go, dump & go, you name it they do it. I’ll tell you a little about my ways, I am firm, I do hold to my word if it takes all hour, I am authoritative and respectful to them as individuals, I don’t like seeing adults brush children off because they can’t speak a full vocabulary, or because they make bad communication choices, even worse they pretend like they care! It’s part of the reason I have such a passion to help enhance their abilities. I try to set healthy boundaries everyday, especially before play time and it always turn into chaos: sock/shoe loosing, hitting, screaming, running frenzy!!! The second I have to change a diaper, i am at the mercy of chaos? I don’t want to turn hopeless but i haven’t really had a chance to enjoy them individually or even get through a simple lesson/activity because of their behavior! I think I am bad with transitions and can’t seem to make the quick smart decision to get their attention to keep things moving without putting children in “time-out”? I hope I’m painting a clear picture without rambling on but the other teachers are of no help, they talk down and over speak with a loud tone of fear to gain respect I guess and the others are push overs without a back bone, I refuse to take hold of that method, I don’t believe that is the way to make healthy relationships at all! Please I feel like a rebel but I really have high standards for the children, please help?

  2. Mary Jo says:

    Some ideas: Table time activities usually attract a lot of children and keeps them busy, interested and in one spot for a little time – 1 – tables set with construction paper, glue bottles, and different items to glue on paper. ( sometimes we will cover the table with tablecloth or newsprint to avoid a gluey mess on the table.) 2 – homemade playdough and playdough toys – add unusual items that they can stick into the playdough and containers for the children to put playdough into.

    Our toddler room has a basket of soft and textured soft balls – these are the only items that they can throw – we can throw balls.

    I am trying new calming sensory bottles this year – water bottles filled with water, glitter glue, glitter and clear glue. They shake up the bottle and watch the glitter settle down to the bottom, it takes about 5 minutes – we’re hoping that the children like these enough to be captivated by them. I will probably have these bottles reserved for special, not for everyday play material. We do have sensory bottles that the children can play with that have different “ingredients”.

    Sometimes the active behavior that they’re displaying means that they may like some organized group movement – like dancing to music and then try out a stop and go portion to the dance. They think it’s silly and fun, especially if you exaggerate your stopping and dance along with them. It may help with their learning a little more self control.

    I hope these ideas are helpful! :)

  3. says:

    These are great ideas! Thank you for sharing Mary Jo.

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