Why should i make changes to the early years environment?
It may seem like a very strange thing to suggest that the early years environment is regularly changed, many will question whether this causes upset and unfamiliarity for the children, disrupting their emotional wellbeing and confidence within the setting. This however is not the case as the building itself will be the same, with the same room, same practitioners and same routine. All of these aspects will be enough continuity for children to remain happy and settled whilst in the setting. The environment is often seen as the third teacher and this is recognised within the EYFS by it being one of the main over arching themes. Therefore it is really useful to regularly change things around for the children to keep it fresh, exciting and interesting. When children enter the same learning environment daily with the same resources in the same areas they can quickly become bored, especially for some of those children who spent up to 10 hours a day in the setting. Boredom can lead to a multitude of problems including disruptive behaviour and a lack of progression. This can lead to a stressful working and learning environment for both children and practitioners. Making small changes can often be enough for the children to become engaged in the environment again and exploring the characteristics of effective learning.
What changes should i make to the early years environment?
These changes can be big or small but should be more than simply changing the activity or a display board. You may like to consider….
- Moving furniture – Simply moving the angle of a bookcase can be enough of a change for all the children to want to engage in the book corner again. More drastic transformations such as swapping a few areas around can work wonders if a group is becoming very unsettled and unengaged with the environment
- Changing whats in an area – This is particularly easy to do in a role play area for example by making a few changes to swap from a home corner to a cafe and then to shop. You may like to rotate a few of the resources so that when they are put back out they seem new and exciting again
- Adding a provocation – Adding a new object or resource to an area to ‘provoke’ learning. For example you may decide to add a few real teapots to the water tray or some mark making cards to the graphics area
- Mixing up the areas – This may seem like an odd recommendation but if you find the children are not engaging at all in the graphics/mark making area then you can always take the mark making to an area that is well used by for example adding an easel to the construction area to encourage the children to draw their building or plan what they are making. Another example may be to remove a piece of furniture which makes a section or area to combine two areas such as the small world and construction area.
- Break the room up – Sometimes children can see a wide open space and feel the need to fill it by running, jumping if this is happening it can be useful to change the environment to fill this space so the children are more productive in the area. This can sometimes be the other way around and children do not use a particular area because they do not have enough space to engage with the resources. If you have notice an area is not being used and it is a small space you may want to consider expanding it.
Let us know your top tips for changing the environment to keep it fresh, interesting and the children engaged.