When we debuted our first hands-on learning aid, RealCare Baby®, almost two decades ago, our primary focus was teen pregnancy prevention. Since then, we’ve expanded our line of Family and Consumer Science-related training tools to address the important college- and career-focused standards that today’s Early Childhood programs require.
For instance, we know that today’s FCS teachers are working hard to ensure their programs lead to industry-recognized certifications such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. Learning aids like our Child Care Center Design Kit and its accompanying curriculum help FCS instructors teach transferable career skills and knowledge – knowledge that, in this case, enables students to plan a child care center that is welcoming, safe and effective.
In this post, we’ll dive into the Child Care Center Classroom Design curriculum that comes with the kit and share why it addresses 4 key topics: managing flow, how to plan a great layout, the impact of classroom design on infants and toddlers, and using learning centers in child care.
Why are these lessons important?
According to Loralie Wallerius, a former Career and Technical Education instructor who owns a child care center near our WI headquarters, and who helped write our Child Care Center Design Kit curriculum, it’s important to remember that young children do not naturally function in a group setting.
“Children are solitary, egocentric beings who need to learn how to play and cooperate with others,” she said. “Because of that, it’s important for child care designers to consider the age and social/emotional development of the children in any group or classroom.”
Important considerations include: What types of activities need to take place in the room? How many spaces do you want to create for children, and how many children will be in each of these spaces? What are the lines of sight and natural walking paths? What custodial duties need to be incorporated into the space?
To address those considerations, our Child Care Center Classroom Design curriculum addresses 4 key topics:
Using learning centers in child care:
Learning centers are one of the easiest and most effective ways to set up an early childhood classroom. After all, children learn best through play and hands-on learning. Through these centers, teachers introduce new toys and learning materials that will build on the developmental skills of children, which encourages them try new things, stretch their imaginations and practice their developmental skills.
When considering where learning centers should be placed in a room, we must always consider a few things: Where does traffic naturally flow through a room? Which learning centers require the most space? Are there areas that lend themselves to louder or quieter forms of play and learning? How many teachers are in a room? Where do teachers need to be when they are assisting children with custodial cares like diapers and hand-washing? Can they see the children in their care while doing these things? The answers to these questions will help in the flow of a classroom.
How to plan a great layout:
Planning a great layout takes thought, consideration of many different factors and variables, and time. It is not uncommon for a teacher to conceptualize the layout of a classroom only to find that the flow doesn’t work right once they set things up or move things around. Furthermore, teachers should look at the room from several different perspectives, evaluating for safety as well as engagement. Teachers play a vital role in how children utilize a classroom and the toys and materials in the room.
The impact of classroom design on infants and toddlers:
Children do not develop cooperative play skills until they are close to 3 years old, which means that infants and toddlers who are in group settings are actually expected to function in a way that is very unnatural for them. They need spaces where they can safely grow in all developmental areas. Keeping these things in mind as you design a classroom for infants and toddlers is vital.
With good planning and forethought, the environment of the classroom (the placement of shelves, tables, learning centers, toys and more) becomes a support system to the teachers. The environment can even be looked at as an “assistant” to the teachers because it will support the care, learning and development that they are trying to accomplish.
Ready to learn more about our Child Care Center Design Kit? Click here to review product details, download the curriculum overview, request a personalized quote or order the kit via our online store.