Creating Effective Learning Environment
Date of Submission:
Creating Effective Learning Environments
1. Pages 319-328 of the course text outline strategies that support equity and flexibility in use within early childhood environments. Explain why equity and flexibility in use are essential components of inclusion, and identify two strategies pre-school teachers can use to ensure their environments support this key practice?
Equity is important because it enables all children to get access to the available facilities and opportunities regardless of their capabilities. By removing the physical and social barriers, children and people with special needs are assured of full access and inclusion. By removing physical barriers, children can move more freely within their environment. There are instances where children have access to some facilities but they cannot use them. In such cases, the teacher can choose to have other activities that the child will find fun and less strenuous to do. Attention should not be paid to access and the environment but also to the individual needs of the child.
Children need to grow in all areas of life and each child feels a need to be independent. Flexibility in use allows the child to develop his or her own relationship by interacting with peers. This is only made possible if the environment supports it. For instance, a child who is always encouraged by his teacher to interact with others during play and at work will find it easy to make friends. Flexibility in use also makes it possible for the child’s cultural needs to be considered. Cultural differences can become a major hindrance to a child especially if not clearly understood. One aspect of culture is language and lack of knowing a common language can be an impediment to interaction (Venn et al., 1994)
2. Pages 328-336 outline how the Universal Design principles of simple and intuitive use, perceptible use, tolerance for error, and low physical effort support children’s access and participation within high-quality, inclusive environments. Select two of these principles, and provide an overview of how each can be used to ensure that all children have equitable access and participation within the preschool environment.
Ensuring tolerance for error means that the environment should be safe from all hazards and the children are safe to play within their environment. Some of the items used periodically such as bleach are poisonous to children and they should not be kept within their reach. The teacher should also be knowledgeable about the emergency equipment in case something goes wrong. First aid kits, fire extinguishers and other emergency equipment should be located conveniently. The teachers and administrators should follow the guidelines set by various bodies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The universal design of ensuring perceptible use allows the child to use her perception to understand various situations. Children are different and even those with similar conditions perceive situations differently. The teacher will therefore need to analyze the different ways through which children perceive things and adapt the environment accordingly. Some developmental needs include hearing impairment, visual challenges, autism and difficulty in learning. Children who do not speak English also experience unique challenges and the teacher should use additional materials when teaching them.
3. Pages 346-351 outline the importance of creating supportive social-emotional environments by supporting children’s safety and security, social needs, and self-esteem. Explain why each of these is an essential component of high-quality inclusive preschool environments
The environment that children are in determines the relationships they form and it is therefore imperative that children are in a safe and secure environment. They will be afraid to venture out of their comfort zones because of fear and this can be detrimental to their growth. Safety and security entails both the removal of hazards and obstacles in the environment, boundaries and limits within which the children can venture. Boundaries make it clear to a child what she should and should not do. They should be consistent and should not confuse the child. A safe and secure environment is therefore essential for children to develop their social needs.
When a child develops his social needs, it makes him feel like one of the members of the community. Acceptance begins from the home to the classroom and then to the community. A child will have a positive view of the community if this has been enhanced at the classroom level. The teacher should therefore ensure that the classroom becomes a place of learning about community matters. Children can be introduced to various situations, relationships and different type of people in the classroom. This feeling of acceptance and belonging enhances the child’s self-esteem and regardless of the situation that he is in, the child begins to accept himself as he is. He considers himself worthy and useful and will not hesitate to contribute either in the class, at home or in the community.
Darragh, C. J. (2010). Introduction to early childhood education: Equity and inclusion. Mount Olive, NC: Merrill
Venn, L. M., Fink, B. D., Hadden, S., & Fowler, A. S. (1994). Family and child transitions into least restrictive environment. Retrieved 3 February 2011, from http://facts.crc.uiuc.edu/facts3/facts3.html