Intentions of a YES environment:
– enable children to learn and play independently
– inspire children towards meaningful activities
– stimulate the natural learning instinct to reach the child’s full potential
– nurture self-motivation, self-regulation, self-discipline
– in classrooms: to allow individual learning and to inspire group and team activities
The environment shapes the child’s activities considerably: for example, kids might be drawn to arts and crafts when a variety of raw materials are visible and accessible, or kids might enjoy silence when a space is inviting to rest and contemplate.
One of the tasks of a teacher/parent is to help children find appropriate environments for their spontaneous activities.
Over time kids can learn how to take more and more responsibility for order and beauty in their environments.
• Long-term learning environments can be prepared at home or at school.
• Temporary learning environments can be set up for car rides, restaurant visits and the like. i.e., bring interesting CD’s, booklets or small toys on a long car ride, take paper and crayons to a restaurant…
• In nature you can define a space within which kids can move freely. i.e. bring a rope to define a space, or let your child go as far as you can see him/her…
Basic guidelines for YES environments in schools, homes, and anywhere:
– Safety: reduce potential danger by anticipating children’s activities, i.e. take out toxic substances, eliminate unstable furniture.
– Purpose: design spaces for specific activities, i.e. a space for louder activities like board games, a space for quiet activities like reading.
– Structure: define spaces through clear limits, i.e. space for building blocks is defined through a carpet, space for water play is limited to outdoor area.
– Order: arrange purposeful order based on practicality and common sense, put things where they are needed, i.e. paper and pencils are next to each other.
– Consistency: give toys and tools a place where they belong, i.e. the scissors can always be found on the same shelf.
– Easy Access: provide furniture and tools in appropriate sizes, i.e. child-sized chairs, smaller spoons.
– Visibility: tools and toys that are visible are more likely to be used, put things at a practical height for children, i.e. children’s clothes in the lower drawers, WATER ALWAYS IN REACH
– Beauty: transform spaces into wonderlands, temples and playgrounds for the soul, i.e. use clean, attractive toys and tools whenever you can
– Coziness: provide spaces where the body and the whole being feels comfortable. i.e. kids like hammocks, tents, couches…
– Inspiration: provide hands-on learning materials. i.e. Montessori learning materials, gardening and cooking tools in kid’s sizes, puzzles, arts and crafts supplies, nature raw materials, like pebbles, seashells…
– Opportunity for movement and various body postures: create spaces to work on the floor or on a table, i.e. you can provide comfortable chairs, carpets, higher and lower tables and shelve…
Additional Inspiration for OUTDOOR YES-environments:
– Spaces for Gross-Motor Development:
Usually outdoors: provide space and devices for running, climbing, balancing, hiding, i.e. swing, slide, tree…
– Spaces for Exploration in Nature: you can create a safe place in nature where kids can explore freely; examine space for potential danger, i.e. broken glass, thorns…
Have fun creating YES environments!