The importance of indoor learning environment can’t be emphasised enough, as it plays a very crucial role a child’s growth and development during the early years.
A comfortable environment is absolutely critical in early learning years of a child, so much so, that it is referred to as the third teacher, after parents and educators (in that order).
In this article:
- The importance of designing early indoor learning environment well
- How to organise an indoor early learning environment?
- Arranging play materials in an indoor learning environment
- Various indoor play activities for toddlers and preschoolers
What is Learning Environment?
Learning environment is the combination of the space and the framework in which a child grows, develops and learns, which can be either indoor or outdoor.
There are many research studies, including this study, that discusses the importance of classroom environment in positive learning.
When setting up an indoor learning environment, a parent or teacher should not only be aware, but also conscious of the fact that a child spends a major part of the day indoors.
It therefore becomes necessary that they should have the clarity about what they want from the indoor setting and how they are going to set it up for the children.
The following are some of the important questions that can help get clarity about what is required from an indoor learning environment setting:
- What are the available resources?
- How to set up those resources?
- What is expected of children to learn?
- How to make the children learn?
- How to set up the indoor learning environment in a way that benefits every child?
- How to engage the children within the indoor learning environment?
Having answers for the above questions for the setting up is important, as a conducive indoor environment helps stimulate development of the child.
A good setup also props up the child through activities and provides hands-on experience that encourages holistic development, which comprises the development of physical, emotional, social and cognitive abilities.
The Importance of Designing Early Indoor Learning Environment
How much importance the designing aspect of early learning environment will be given is influenced by the teachers’ and facilitators’ collective attributes, namely:
There is no one method to go about setting up the design. Rather, it is about what is required and appropriate for the given needs of the children.
For example, if it is observed that children expect consistency in the environment, then the set-up may not be changed, except for some toys and puzzles, which should be based on children’s interest.
If it is observed that regular changes in the set-up of indoor environment stimulates children and keeps them even more occupied, rearrangement can be made on a regular basis.
The bottom-line is that supporting and sustaining the child’s holistic development should be paramount, and should always hold the topmost priority when setting up a learning environment.
It is generally well understood by teachers and parents alike that play, along with exploratory or investigative learning with first-hand experience, can promote holistic development in a child.
It therefore becomes important that the indoor learning environment is set up in such a way that ample space is provided for play, construction or production, creation, library, group activity and settling down/calm areas.
Along with these areas, it is important to set up the indoor learning environment by also keeping in mind the child’s basic needs and requirements, like placing water bottles, floor mats, having a designated place for snacking and eating, etc.
The importance of providing a healthy and safe indoor and outdoor learning environment can’t be emphasised enough too, as it facilitates children to be in a secure and harmless learning environment.
That’s why it becomes important to design the indoor learning environment in such a way that the environment can be monitored easily for health and safety, and from potential hazards.
There are many components to the setting up of an early learning environment. However, there are few vital ones that are absolutely mandatory requirements.
How to Organise an Indoor Early Learning Environment?
When it comes to setting up an indoor learning environment for infants, toddlers or preschoolers, to begin with, the space and furnishings have to come together.
In other words, the space and furnishings have to be custom-made in such a way, that they together fulfil the many needs of the children, especially the learning needs; as they go through some exciting learning experiences during their critical phase of rapid growth and development.
The Play Area
Keeping in mind the material space of the play area, the space there has to be designed such that it is neither too packed, nor is it too open and empty.
During their growing up years, children need adequate space to achieve their growth and development milestones, which manifest in the form of abilities and skills. They can demonstrate their skills and abilities only through free movement, which necessitates the need for space.
As we all know, children are actively mobile during the early childhood years. They are high in life and would want to investigate and explore the space around them and learn to walk, run, roll, crawl, dance, jump, hop, etc.
This means they also become tired often, as they are busy expending all their energy through various play, games and activities.
That’s why it becomes important that the play area should be accommodative not only for active play, but also quiet play, such as building blocks and solving puzzles, among others.
The indoor play area should be so well planned, and the plan so well executed, that the environment is well organised in all aspects. Only then can the environment facilitate individual and group play, along with providing physical and mental stimulation for the child.
Arranging Play Materials in an Indoor Learning Environment
The play space should be well planned and prepared in such a way, that all the play materials can be arranged in an organised manner and is also access-friendly for the child.
In other words, it should be organised in such a way, that it is easy for the children to know where their things/play items are and where to put them away. Ideally, the environment should have separate/different areas or corners for each kind of play.
2 Tips for Play in an Indoor Learning Environment
a) A Specific Place for Play
The child should get a specific place to sit comfortably and play with a mat, pillow or a cushion as a support.
Efforts should be taken to have a place for displaying the child’s name in the designated play area, preferably with his/her picture; as it not only makes the child feel happy, but also give a sense of belonging and pride.
It can also serve as a kind of indication for the children to understand they are supposed to play for that day in the designated area. This of course can be on rotation, so that all the children are covered.
This kind of a set up will also help children cultivate the habit of taking ownership for their designated space, maintain the space clean, and keep it organised.
b) Having a Specific Time for Play
The time for play can be scheduled in such a way that the child gets a chance to explore every kind of play in a week. For example, a time-table where a specified time is given to explore and experience two kinds of play in their daily schedule can help a great deal.
Various Indoor Play Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
An indoor play environment can not only be a very stimulating experience for children, it can also encourage holistic growth and development in them.
Some of the indoor play activities for toddlers and preschoolers that can be promoted are:
- A free play and resting area with soft toys and stuffed toys.
- Arts and crafts with creativity, with paintings, sticking, mapping, etc.
- Blocks play for building and constructing, etc.
- Sensory activities where there is application, judgement, thinking, etc.
- Fine motor activity with lacing, buttoning, sorting activities, puzzles, etc.
- Gross motor activity with space for riding toy vehicles, climbing, balancing, etc.
- Dramatic play with dolls, stuffed toys, etc.
- Reading area with a quiet, calm area with pillows, armchairs, book shelves, etc.
- Writing area with appropriate materials for writing, note pads, paper, slate, chalk, pencils, along with comfortable furniture like kid’s chairs and tables
The simple yet fundamental fact that kids spend most of their waking hours indoors, is reason enough to underline the importance of indoor learning environment for toddlers and preschoolers.
Since early childhood is not only a phase of rapid growth and development of a child, but also the phase wherein they are getting introduced to formal education; it becomes absolutely critical that parents, teachers and facilitators together ensure that children are provided the best possible environment that facilitates holistic learning and development.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.