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1.9: Creating Environments- Scheduling and Overall Design Considerations

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    Learning Objective

    After completing the readings and activites, you should be able to design an infant or toddler program with schedule and physical environment design using relationship-based practice. NAEYC Standard 1c, 5a; MA Core Competency 5.A.2 @ Initial & 4.D.11 @ Initial )


    • Support responsive caregiving
    • Foster independence and feelings of competence
    • Encourage educator productivity and efficicency
    • Promote children’s engagement with learning
    • Decrease challenging behavior
    • Facilitate appropriate social interactions among children
    • Provide structure and predictability

    Resources to Explore

    Early Childhood Environments: Designing Effective Classrooms The module describes how to set up effective inclusive early childhood classroom environments for young children and provides details about the interrelated physical, social, and temporal components of those environments.

    Creating a Child Care Environment for Success with specific suggestions for an effective physical environment.

    Beginning Workshop (2004) from Child Care Information Exchange. The document includes 15 pages and the articles:

    Infant and Toddler Spaces, the 24 page document has beautiful photographs to see the possibilities for infant and toddler spaces.


    daily schedule and in your weekly activity plan include activities that promote language and communication development. This section will examine how to schedule and plan so you can use interactions to enhance each child’s development. Infant and toddler learning is dependent on relationships because the support and interactions of caregivers are critical to the growth and learning. Relationship-based practice is essential in infant and toddler education and care.

    Video: Classroom Schedule Training for Infants, Toddlers and Twos

    7.42 minute video produced by Early Childhood Connection published on Nov 26, 2014. This training focuses on the unique needs of this age group for daily scheduling. The pictorial schedule is featured as the recommend tool for creating a flexible schedule for young children.

    Keys to Quality Infant Care. and Relationship-Based Infant Care. How will your schedule will minimize stress and create rituals and routines? How will you stimulate language and literacy in everyday routines?

    Group Times for Older Infants and Toddlers, look for ways to Ways to Make Group Times More Flexible and Responsive to Children. What type of group time have you observed or held? Were the group times effective? Why or why not? How will you include the information in your daily schedule?

    Toddler Schedule Example created by a student

    7:30-8:30 Arrival/ Transition into school/Manipulatives/Cleanup

    8:30-8:40 Circle Time-Hello Song, finger plays, puppets, simple yoga moves and exercises. Children learn how to interact in a group-builds relationships with peers and adults. Yoga and exercise helps children learn how their body moves within the environment. A simple transition such as a rhyme or finger play will be used to transition to free play.

    8:40-9:40 Free Play- Sensory, Art, cooking, music, dramatic play, literacy and building Centers

    9:40-10:00 Toileting/Diaper Changing

    10:00-10:15 Snack: Tuition covers the cost of two healthy snacks per day, allows teachers to set up snack quickly. As the children eat the teachers encourage conversation about where they played today. Here are some of the snacks we might serve:

    • Apple slices with string cheese or nut butter
    • Crinkle-cut carrot “chips” with hummus
    • Whole-wheat tortilla chips with bean dip
    • Cucumbers or red peppers with low-fat dressing for dipping
    • Yogurt smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, milk, ice and any fruit (toddler favorites include bananas, strawberries, blueberries and cantaloupe)
    • Berries topped with a smidge of low-fat frozen yogurt
    • Low-fat yogurt topped with granola and fresh fruit
    • Mini-pizza (tomato sauce and cheese melted on crackers)
    • Cottage cheese with cut-up peaches, nectarines, pineapple or bananas
    • Graham crackers with applesauce for dipping

    10:15-10:30 Dress for outside/Transition outside. Children encouraged to put on own jackets which builds independence and motor skills. The children will sing a song such as, “The Ants Go Marching One by one,” as they walk outside, this fosters a sense of teamwork.

    10:30-11:30 Outside play-may include time on playground and/or a walk. Children build muscle strength running, climbing, sliding and digging in sandbox outside. If weather does not permit outside play teachers will set up gross motor activities inside. This may include an obstacle course, exercising to music, tossing beanbags and/or moving bodies on small scooters.

    11:30-11:45 Transition inside/hang up jackets. Toileting/Diaper Changing. Handwashing-Encourages independence and self-help skills.

    11:45-12:15 Lunch- Children bring lunch from home. Teachers will assist children in placing lunch on table. As they eat children will converse with other children and teachers. Children are encouraged to feed themselves and cleanup after eating.

    12:15-12:30 Tooth brushing at tables/Cots and story time. As the children sit quietly on their cots a teacher will read a short story. Listening to books builds vocabulary, awareness of the sounds of letters, and print awareness.

    12:30-2:30 Rest time-Teachers will play restful music and offer back rubs to children who request them. For children who wake early or don’t sleep a quiet activity such as puzzles, coloring, or books will be offered.

    2:30-2:45 Toileting/Diaper Changing. Handwashing-Builds self- help skills and prevents the spread of germs

    2:45-3:00 Afternoon Snack-Tuition covers two healthy snacks a day.

    3:00-3:45 Free Play –Sensory, music, dramatic play and building. Children are free to choose from classroom centers.

    3:45-4:30 Outside Play or indoor gross motor activities. Gross motor activities build muscle strength and may include yoga and dancing.

    4:30-5:00 Books, puzzles and dismissal. Children learn self-regulation skills as they wait for their parents to pick up. As the children wait they will engage in conversation with teachers and peers, building both expressive and receptive language skills.

    How will you create a sensitive and responsive schedule?

    Overall Design Considerations

    Mom Loves Best

    standards listed below?

      • equipment and furnishings for diaper changing and changing soiled underwear or other clothing that are located away from food preparation areas;
      • hand-washing sinks within arm’s length of diaper changing tables;
      • a chair with a back and a seating height that allows the child to sit with his or her feet on the floor or ground (for each child over the age of one year);
      • tables at a height that allows a child to sit comfortably with the table between underarm and waist;
      • at least one cot, crib, mat, sleeping bag, or pad for each child who spends more than four hours a day in the program (no child is allowed to sleep on the floor without using rest equipment);


      A variety of age- and developmentally appropriate materials and equipment are available indoors and outdoors for children throughout the day. This environment includes

      • dramatic play equipment;
      • sensory materials such as sand, water, play dough, paint, and blocks;
      • materials that support curriculum goals and objectives in literacy, math, science, social studies, and other content areas; and
      • gross-motor equipment for activities such as pulling up; walking; climbing in, on, and over; moving through, around, and under; pushing; pulling; and riding.


      The indoor environment is designed so staff can supervise children by sight and sound at all times without relying on artificial monitoring devices. In semiprivate areas, it is always possible for both children and adults to be observed by an adult from outside the area.


      When climbers, climbing gyms, slides, and other play units are part of the indoor environment, the program provides safety surfacing that is rated and installed in the fall zone as recommended by the manufacturer for the fall height of the play equipment. Furnishings such as lofts are constructed to prevent falls (e.g., with appropriate barriers), or safety surfacing is installed in the fall zone.


      Staff organize and group materials on low, open shelves to encourage children to use them independently. Staff rotate and adapt materials to promote learning and extend children’s play opportunities.

      • at least one cot or mat with a blanket for an ill child;
      • adaptations that allow children with disabilities and otherspecial needs to fully participate in the program’s activities
      • A solid barrier or at least three-foot spacing that separates sleeping children from one another (This indicator is considered an Emerging Practice)


      Individual space is provided for each child’s belongings.


      Non-disposable materials are durable and in good repair. Equipment, materials, and furnishings are available that provide access for children with disabilities to the program’s curriculum and activities.

    • Materials and equipment that facilitate focused individual play or play with peers are available in sufficient quantities to occupy each child in activities that meet his or her interests.


      Program staff arrange the environment to be welcoming and accessible. A welcoming and accessible environment contains elements such as

      • multicultural materials that promote appreciation for diversity while being respectful of the cultural traditions, values, and beliefs of families being served;
      • clearly defined places where families can gather information regarding the daily schedule and upcoming events;
      • clearly defined places where families sign in, sign out, and gather information about their child’s day;
        • places for displaying children’s work; and
        • features that moderate visual and auditory stimulation.


      The indoor environment includes washable, soft elements that allow groups of children or adults and children to sit in close proximity for conversations or comforting.

    To learn more watch

    • Preparation for Life: Montessori Infant- Toddler Communities

    This page titled 1.9: Creating Environments- Scheduling and Overall Design Considerations is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Susan Eliason via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.