With an enabling environment, you can optimise the development and learning for a child in the early years. As children thrive in environments that support their diverse and unique needs, the environment has to be flexible to accommodate their changing interests and needs across different ages.
What does an enabling environment entail? It should provide children with security, comfort, choice, engagement and opportunity - only then would they have the space for movement, creativity, imagination, independence and collaboration.
Providing the Right Environment
There are 3 main aspects in fostering an effective environment for a child; namely the emotional, the indoor, and the outdoor environments. Fundamentally, the number one rule is to make sure that you focus on the process rather than the outcome - the experience is far more impactful in shaping a child’s learning! For instance, in terms of language learning, model the use of language in daily life rather than point out their mistakes.
1. Emotional Environment
The emotional environment refers to the people and relationships involved, including how people behave, interact, speak, and treat each other. The people could be other children, parents, caregivers, or teachers. Young children are very sensitive and perceptive of the feelings and atmosphere around them - only in an emotionally healthy environment would they feel safe, secure and cared for.
It is therefore important for you to create an emotionally comforting and encouraging setting for your child. For example, having a familiar adult with him/her at all times, or ensuring continuity of care when you introduce a new caregiver.
2. Indoor Environment
The indoor environment should be interesting and flexible in accommodating to a child’s changing needs and interests. For example, provide books that reflect their interests and cater to their age group, or resources such as blocks for building, crayons for mark-making, clothes for dressing-up. These items should be accessible by children themselves. Allow them the freedom to organise and interact with the space! You can even tap into their five senses when designing the space.
Of course, safety is of top priority, so children can explore freely. For example, ensure that the shelves where the resources are stored are not too high, and that there are distinct zones and areas to store different things to keep choking/ tripping hazards away.
3. Outdoor Environment
Children should spend some time outdoors daily, barring bad weather. The outdoor space offers unique opportunities for them, allowing them to move around with less restrictions as compared to indoor spaces, so they can explore and use all five of their senses to appreciate the colours, sounds, and the sense of space. Being outdoors also supports confidence and allows opportunities for bigger-scale activities involving problem-solving and creativity in the company of other children. It promotes physical activity and calculated risk taking. Best of all, the resources are already present in the environment in playgrounds, parks, even fallen leaves, ramps, etc.
Creating enabling environments for language learning
At BrookieKids, we help you create an enabling environment at home for language learning. With QR codes and different voice interactive content available, we create dynamic experiences to give your child the choice, engagement and opportunity to encourage movement, creativity, imagination, independence - to slowly build up confidence and interest in speaking and mastering a language. Get your Home Starter Pack here, while stocks last.
Birth To 5 Matters. Learning environments. Retrieved 4 May 2022 from https://birthto5matters.org.uk/learning-environments/
Oxford Shire County Council (2008). My Space. Creating Enabling Environments for Young Children. Retrieved 4 May 2022 from https://www2.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/sites/default/files/folders/documents/childreneducationandfamilies/informationforchildcareproviders/Toolkit/My_Space_Creating_enabling_environments_for_young_children.pdfSwift, T (n.d.) How to Create Spaces that Boost Learning. Retrieved 4 May 2022 from https://www.teachearlyyears.com/enabling-environments/view/spaces-that-boost-learning