A YES-environment is a space where children are allowed to explore, play and touch everything that is in reach, fueled by their own curiosity. Most Yes- environments are at the same time learning environments because every activity has the potential to become a learning process. Hands-on learning materials can be placed visibly and in reach to foster practical and academic learning. In a YES-environment educators/parents can respond to a child’s request with ‘YES! Go for it! Touch, explore, and follow your curiosity!” Within the boundaries of the space, independent activities are fostered. Children can learn practical and academic skills while they are playing and interacting with the environment. A YES- environment is a great relieve for adults and children alike.
Some YES- environments are prepared especially for children’s use , i.e. a playground or a children’s room. Some are integrated into grown-up environments as ‘partial Yes-environments’ for children. When specific basic guidelines are observed, children can joyfully take part in the grown-up world.
Some tips for creating YES environments:
1. ANTICIPATING A CHILD’S ACTIVITIES
Kneel down and let your eyes wander around the room, touch and feel things around you… try to look around from the perspective of your child with the wisdom and knowledge of an adult. Imagine what your child and the other people using the environment are inspired to do here.
What activities are inspired by this environment ? What might a child do in this place?
2. SPOTTING POTENTIAL DANGER
Make the space safe for children to explore. Check the space for electric cables, precious vases on lower shelves, sharp objects, toxic detergents, etc. Check for objects who could potentially fall from shelves or tables.
3. DEFINING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES BEFOREHAND
Within healthy boundaries free movement is safe. Every place where children are invited to be active needs safe boundaries, emotionally and in the environment. Try to anticipate when you would need to say “NO” even in this specific YES-environment.
4. FULFILLING YOUR CHILD’S GENUINE NEEDS THROUGH THE ENVIRONMENT
• Have water and healthy snacks accessible
• Set the environment up to inspire your child towards meaningful age-appropriate activities:
– What developmental stage is your child/teenager experiencing?
– What are your child’s favorite activities?
– What would you like your child to do/learn/know?
Be aware: Everything is a potential learning material or toy. Intentionally place tools and toys for learning.
Enjoy the process of creating child-friendly environments.