Positive environment means environment which support all aspects of children’s and young people learning experience. This term is very comprehensive and must include lots of different aspects of learning which includes physical and emotional needs. The settings must provide appropriate conditions in order to encourage the development of the whole child (holistic way). Important part of positive environment is a space offered to run out an activities which support properly development of a child, therefore all settings must be divided for two basic areas such as outdoor and indoor activities.
This areas are divided in smaller spaces in order to support children’s development which includes: physical development; personal, social and emotional development; intellectual development; communication, language and literacy development; creative development; problem solving, reasoning and numeracy; knowledge and understanding the world. Outdoor activities become an extension of those form inside. If planning offers painting indoor, there should be a space for outdoor painting too. As workers must support children in a holistic meaning this division is essential because children can experience a variety activities.
Main indoor areas include: book corner (which could serve as quiet area or story time), small world, construction area, music area, homer/shop corner, creativity area, baby area in children’s centre. Outdoor areas extend those inside but there are also: slide, climbing structure, bicycle track or garden. Areas listed above may vary in some settings compared to others, as it all depends on the type of settings (day care, children’s centre, home setting) and the space which offers. The principal rule is to provide a safe environment therefore there must be enough space gap between individual activities and clear access to it.
Children learning the best via experience. The activities must be planned in the way that gives them the opportunity to solve a problem and encourage them to be creative. Even though the children are under supervision and usually instruction given, they must have a freedom of their own choice and sense of independency. From the safe point of view all workers must be sure that activities such, as riding a bike or trickle, are located at a safe distance with the principles of health and safety regulations.
They must take into account the relevant area to exploit the possibilities of learning experience. All the surfaces must be washable and easy to clean, floors non slippery as the messy activity could end up on the floor. Positive environment depends on the relationships between adults and children and creates positive ambience which is essential part in the learning journey. Practitioner must behave toward children with respect and be assured that all needs and interests has been addressed as well as plan all activities in the achievable way designed to a stage of development.
Children under three years old should have a key person to establish closer relationship which makes a strong link between home and settings. Childcare settings must act on a basis of The Childcare Act 2006 and Early Years Foundation Stage Framework and be registered with: Child Early Years Register (EYS) for those who care for children between 0 and 5years. General Care Register (GCR) for those who care for children between 5 and 8 years and child attends for more than two hours per day.
Ofsted is an organization which inspects all settings which cares for children for more than two hours per day in order to make sure that institution meets all requirements of positive environment. Therefore, in England exists an Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale which helps to achieve all aspects of the framework. We must not forget about Healthy and Safety Regulations and make sure that the illumination of the setting is appropriate and all areas are well lit. Setting should keep a tem. around 15-18 ? C or 20-22 ? C for babies.
Ventilation plays very important role although there are no draughts acceptable. This in important to make sure that all door are locked and glass on windows toughened. All external gates should be locked and coded as appropriate with handles and locks out of reach of children. The safety gates should located of the stairways to avoid children climbing by themselves. Surfaces outdoor should be soft, stable, non-slippery and easily cleanable. Access points must be kept clear, unlocked and made known to children and adults.
Environment policies and procedures must include: worm elcoming, clean and well maintained setting, sole use of premises, appropriate temperature, adequate space storage, appropriate rest areas, safe equipment, appropriate outdoor space and suitable equipment, appropriate toilets, kitchen facilities, safe supply of gas and electricity, security and supervision, awareness of fire safety, appropriate planning. Worm welcoming plays a big part in creating positive environment. We, as an adults, like to work in warm and welcoming atmosphere. The same applies to the children. Fist few minutes at the beginning of the day affect the rest of their stay.
It is important to make them feel welcome and even show our joy of seeing them again. As children are good observers (that’s the way they learn too), it is our role to make sure to develop positive bond with the parents or carriers. When they see us respecting adults they will feel more trustful and safe. It is good practice to involve a child in adult to adult conversation by e. g. asking them how they feel that day. Some children are not much of talkers but being involved by such a simple question, even if they don’t answer, shows importance of their presence.
For those with special needs such as hear impairment, is worth to make an effort and learn few greeting words in sign language. This certainly prove our interest and respect. To achieve this point of a day and be successful, worker needs to gather some information about child and the family. Surely, saying lots in English toward the child who has just came from other country without knowledge of language, is a bad idea, as it may affects in confusion and discouraged to participate in activities. Practitioner must be very sensible on this field in order to meet all needs of children and their parents.
Planning an activities is a difficult task as it has to follow the curriculum and meets all particular needs of children. All activities should considered children involvement. Even though that certain activities has been planned and often there is a main theme to it, settings must make sure that child takes an active part in it. Another aspect of providing a positive environment for those with special needs – settings must be prepared to provide variety activities and properly access. There must be an adequate space for the wheelchair users (to move freely between areas) and ctivities which allowed them to participate and make their own choices.
Worker supports child by giving them a choice in many ways. It is good practice to assist child with choosing the paint in a painting area. Older children clearly reach different level. Younger ones may be taking part in mixing two colours and older may actually choose it by themselves. Those under 3 years old could be encouraged to involved by choosing a play materials (big painting brush or sponge or fingers), but those over 4 years old could choose if they want to paint, or maybe they prefer to use crayons.
Children will engage more with the activity if they feel to be a part of the whole process of planning and executing. By this simple act, children take the responsibility of their work and surly will enjoy more the whole experience. The key, is to make them involved and responsible for their actions. They still follow the curriculum, learn but with joy and interest. Practitioner role is to provide the choice, but as well must meet children individual needs. Everyone is different and learn in a different way. Observation is the best way to meet those needs and create accurate environment for children to be able to achieved the goals.
Young people often adapted or extend the activities. If practitioner notice that child is implying transporting schema by carrying a building blocks in a doll pram, should provide more pushing resources indoor and outdoor. If, a child tries to wash a doll in a water tray which at the time contains e. g. sea creatures, this should be a sign to adapt some space toward the child demand. Some children shows their skills by trying to write letters, therefore practitioner should encourage them to sigh the picture using their name and create an activity which requires using letters.
Worker should be aware that children comes up with lots ideas if they have chance to express themselves. Some planned activities may be transformed, therefore it is important to be flexible but ready for the changes in the same time, ensuring that there is enough space for and the activity is purposeful. Example: mum shares her concern about her child, taking shoes at home and lining it up in the living room; after is doing the same with his/her teddy bears. This very useful information for the setting.
Practitioner must assure parent that is nothing wrong about that, this is a trajectory schema which child is playing. To extend this activity at setting, worker should provide for this child appropriate resources to play with such as big building blocks etc. , as well enough space for the activity and support child during a play time. Children learn by using their senses such as touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell. Those come before the language therefore settings must provide a variety activities to promote learning via senses.
Touching different textures is great experience to explore the world. To promote this sense, ‘sensitive basket’ is recommended for younger children to feel and pull out of the box different objects. As objects are inside, child cannot see them, so all concentration goes to sense of touch. Older children can make a collage out of different textures papers and other materials. Playing with different size beans such as lentil or white beans, or sand makes a great experience. There are cushions filled with different content e. g. soft once with cotton or those with rice or sand inside.
The textures could be found in outdoor area, such as walking surface, surface under the climbing structure or even a grass. Worker should always remember to support child in the smallest aspects and make sure to pay attention to their interests. If, the child is playing with a dough, it would appropriate to ask how it’s feels. And even connect few aspects of using a senses. If there was a colour added is good to point it out and encourage child to recognize it (sight sense). In order to make this experience more complex, it would be good idea to put in it some herbs and explore a sense of smell.
Tasting could be a great fun supported by the e. g. ‘boost’ where children can try together different fruits and vegetable along with chopping, mashing or mixing. Setting supports carry out ‘special design’ activity, but simply try to spot, in what child is interested. Young babies responds to bright colours and contrast. The settings should use worm, bright colours to make the ambient useful and pleasant. There should be planned reading time and music time which support hearing sense. Displays, information notes, posters could be done using different textures and colours, materials, shapes.
Some of the settings has a special designed sensory room or sensory gardens to promote use of senses. In order to feel confident we must feel good about ourselves. Human brain is designed to encode information received, therefore also an important aspect of practitioner work is to provide positive information as it result in a positive response. It is much better to say ‘I feel good today’ rather than‘ I don’t feel bad’, as the sentence contains negative aspect. Praising is the best way to pass a positive information and in a short future the memory will brings it out.
To promote positive environment workers should use a lot of praising and encouraging children in their behaviour. The key is to concentrate on a small things and ignored little failures. If, the child is trying to colour provided picture and cannot stay with it in the lines, practitioner should give a lot of praise for the effort. Child will remember the fact, that even the picture was not perfect, he/she put a lot of work in it and most important, it was clearly noticed by the adult and praised truly. In the future he/she will feel more confident, resilience to approach another activity.
Giving a lot praise develops self-esteem and confidence. In settings there are many ways to show the appreciation (specially in a bigger group) by giving a stickers, choosing a helper from the group, giving a certificate for the achievement, displaying all work has been done and sharing their success with others, including their parents. It is important to praise ‘at the time’, as younger children may not remember about the task before and won’t able to connect the fact that they successfully purred water into a cup during the lunch time. Praising small achievements is the same important as big ones.
Other important part of setting is support the personal care needs of children and young people within a positive environment. This include: skin care, hair and teeth care. Skincare helps to avoid infections, so washing hands should be part of a daily routine. All children after outdoor activities should wash their hands using appropriate sink designed for them. Usually above it, there is a big poster explaining how to do it properly and why it is so important. As children must understand the world, it is good practise to promote healthily life style and explain why it is important to keep their hand nice and clean.
This could be easily achieved by short talk about germs and batteries. Setting should apply a routine about that and make sure all kids remember what to do before e. g. snack time or after playing with sand. This will defiantly encourage them to take action and even with time they may start encourage others. During the summer time, when the sun is strong it is good practise to make sure, that all the children using a head to protect from the sunlight and sun block for their skin. Practitioner could support parent by recalling about applying it before activities.
Some of the settings such, as day care, should always make an arraignment with parent and have a permission, if they wish a practitioner apply it on child skin during the stay in the setting. To avoid any types of allergies, settings should ask, if there are contraindicated connected with allergy or every other contraindications they wish to express. Settings should obey the rule, and keep children off the sun between 11 and 3 pm, sometimes however, in situation such as a school trip to ZOO is hard to avoid sun fully, that’s why heads should be covered, faces protected, high-factor sun cream applied.
All actions should be made in agreement with a carrier and child himself. This applies to hair care, teeth care as well. Hair should be clean at all times to keep it healthily. There are a certain situation to deal with respect, such a hair lice. If this occurs in setting all parents should be informed to pay attention and check child hair on regular basis and begin a treatment as appropriate. As other kids could be cruel toward child who had head lice, workers should promote positive behaviour by explaining that this is a common thing and could happen to any of them, no matter how much their care about their hygiene.
This talk will certainly create positive environment. Children should be aware about their teeth hygiene and how important is to keep it clean. As the teeth grows from early stage (milk teeth appears from around 6 months), setting should start learning activities and talk as soon as possible and in a manner suited to the child’s development stage. It is the same importance take care of milk teeth as a constant.
To avoid decay, children should have balanced diet which doesn’t contain sugars, sometimes in drinks provided in lunch boxes, therefore in educational institution in UK, children are allowed to drink water and natural juices as it contain just natural sugar needed. The best way to carry out positive behaviour about hygiene and in order to create optimal conditions to support positive environment, it is essential to establish daily routines. Children depends on adults but knowing what happens next makes them feel safe. Routine gives them feeling of security environment and they can predict what is happening at the time.
It is curtail to tell children about activities order, but they must be informed why those things happen. Even, us adults, we want to know why we’re doing certain work, not just ‘doing it to be done’. Children should understand the need of hands washing, tidying up after the play time and most of all, should know the cause of each action to a logical connection which results in understanding the facts and showing initiative. Practitioner should involve child in caring out the routine by e. g. letting them to hand a drinks or tiding up a certain area that they a responsible for.
We must never forget about individual needs, and ensure that those with English additional language are supported. If children are regularly informed, they will learn about expectations. All settings must carry out a fire emergency evacuation routine. In a case of real emergency, children will exactly know how to behave. In a case of any changes to a routine, parents and children should be informed to avoid unexpected behaviour and confusion. Setting can prepare children for upcoming changes. Transition from reception to year one could be a difficult time, as children will change teacher, class room, and e. g. entrance gate.
For this purpose, all children and parents should be informed about time to practice new collection procedure at the end of last days of summer term. Positive environment and routines meets emotional needs of children and their families. Settings should take in account the fact that all families are different and have different routines at home, therefore practitioner should always work with agreement with a parent. This applies to a sleeping and resting routine in a day-care setting for the young babies; or snacking time for older ones. Activities during the day should be balanced and meet parents expectations.
Some parents may wish their child to sleep a lot during the day, so they can spend some more time with them in the evening; others may wish the child to drop the nap time in order to go to bed with their siblings. Although worker is not allowed to force child to do anything against their will – if parent wish his child to sleep during the day and child doesn’t want to do that, at this point is a good practice to talk with the parents about their child changing routines. If family is sharing toilet or bathroom with other family, child may have to wake up earlier therefore he/she may need more rest during the day to compensate early getting up.
Relationship with parents and communication is very important. This can give information how the child feels that day – if, for e. g. the family has just came back from the long trip – child could feel more tired than usual and may need more rest during the day. To balance all this aspects practitioner should take into account the fact that some children may need more attention while other children are asleep. Setting must be prepared to provide activities which benefit child and not disturbing sleeping children.
Physical activities encourages children and young people to develop all their physical skills. Setting should offer a variety of activities and range of equipment indoor and outdoor. There must be a balance between physical activities and rest time, as children will benefit play time only if they are rested. Rest and quiet times will vary according to the age and needs of children. Children with additional or special needs may have limited play opportunities, but it is a practitioner role to ensure that they contributed in many activities as possible.
Courtney from Study Moose
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