To create an environment philosophy that will impact the space you will work in, teach in, and guide children, the following questions will guide you while you realize the perfect environment for you and the children in your care:
- What kind of teacher do you want to be?
- What is important to you? What are your values?
- What do you believe about children?
- How do you approach learning? How should the environment be used to support this philosophy?
- How do children learn best? How would you use the environment to support this?
How you respond to these answers will not in itself build your class environment. It will guide you in selecting components you like while you learn about curriculum models and philosophers.
Environment Curriculum Models
There are a number of curricular models that impact the classroom in a variety of ways. As a teacher you can adopt one of the models as one you would like to implement into your classroom. However, you can always use a more eclectic approach and use the elements that work best for your teaching philosophy and the children in your care.
Many curriculum models were discussed in chapter 3, here are a few that are noted for keeping environments at the heart of the philosophy:
Reggio: The Reggio curricular model has key components that make it unique from other models.
- There is a focus on observation and documentation. Teachers routinely take notes, photographs, and video of group discussions and children's play. Each week, teachers meet to discuss their observations, review the documentation, and strive to hear the strongest currents of interest within children's flow of ideas.
- Curricula is child centered, teachers use what they learn to plan activities that are truly based on children's interests This is done to gain insights into children's individual personalities and into child development as a whole, by connecting to the knowledge a child already has.
- Crucial features of this approach include:
- The Three teachers
- The Adult (Teachers are viewed as enthusiastic learners and researchers.)
- The child and peers
- The Environment (The acknowledgment that children learn just as much, if not more, from the environment as they do from the teacher and their peers)
- The Three teachers
Montessori: It is always a goal of Montessori education in the classrooms to make the child independent and be able to do things for themselves. This is achieved by giving children opportunities. Opportunities to move, to dress themselves, to choose what they want to do, and to help the adults with tasks. When the children are able to do things for themselves there is an increase in their self-belief, self-confidence, and self-esteem that they may carry on throughout their life. The Montessori method believes that an adult should, ‘never help a child with a task at which they feel they can succeed.’ Observation is an essential component, this is how we understand how children learn, the materials they would need to support their learning, and what children’s needs are. For example, if a child is banging on something, they are in need of gross motor activities. The teacher’s first duty is to watch over the environment, and this takes precedence over all the rest. It is important to make sure the environment is well done and supports the developmental domains. The prepared environment is important it is the link for a child to learn from adults. Classrooms should be child sized with activities set up for success. The environment has to be ready and beautiful for the children, so it invites them to work. The Montessori Method feels the development of the child is dependent on the environment.
Waldorf: This education model believes children live in a world of wonder and imagination. During a typical day in a Waldorf classroom children’s time if filled with both structured and unstructured activities that stimulate and exercise their powers of imagination. The Waldorf classroom is furnished to look like home with elements such as silk curtains, wool rugs, a rocking chair and wooden tables and chairs. The classroom space is designed with deliberation and intentionality. Use of color, comfort, and space are all key factors in creating the classroom experience that will inspire curiosity and free-thinking. Teachers consciously choose playthings that will stimulate a young child's senses. When a young child steps into a Waldorf classroom they enter a place of beauty and adventure. In a typical classroom one side will hold large wooden tables for work time and snack time; the other side is carpeted for imaginative play and storytelling.
After learning about environment philosophies and curricular models that influence the environment. What is your personal environment philosophy?