As you think about these environmental changes, how do you see these supporting children’s growth and development? Include how you see these environmental changes supporting physical, social-emotional, and cognitive domains. Name one new idea you gained from reading your peer’s work and how you might implement that change in an environment for young children. This might be a classroom, a museum, or a home setting. Give one suggestion to expand on their environmental strategies.
I read the article on creating supportive environments, “Including Children with Special Needs: Are You and Your Early Childhood Program Ready?” by Watson and McCathren. After reading it my feelings and fears about inclusion have changed. “Although early childhood professionals approach inclusion with open hearts and minds, many may still be anxious about their ability to respond fully to the needs of children with disabilities” (Watson & McCathren, 2009). This statement explains me exactly. I am all heart and attempting in everything that I do, but that doesn’t eliminate the fears that I have about inclusion. For me, it is the unknown barriers that cause children undue stress and frustration that somehow slips past teachers that worry me. Having a checklist to guide me definitely helps me feel that I will not miss a situation that will cause a child stress in my classroom. (Watson & McCathren, 2009)
Often in early childhood programs, the environment is seen as the third teacher as it guides and invites children to interact in various ways. Reflecting on this idea of the environment supporting children’s play there are a variety of ways that programs can implement ideas from the reading into current or future classrooms.
One idea that will benefit the whole class is to provide a variety of materials and times for each type of activity. This allows children to choose activities that they are comfortable with. The reading uses the example of sensory materials such as paint, puffy paint, texture paint and other types of painting materials that stimulate the senses in different ways. Some children may not want to touch one type of paint but will another and having a choice will allow children to make that choice.
Another idea that will benefit the whole class is to provide equal access to all areas of the program. This is as easy as providing step stools and hand rails in the bathroom, providing safely maneuverable places in the classroom, having safe stairs/ramps with rails to hang onto. This benefits the ability of all children to move around the program in a safe manner. The article provides many more ideas to provide safe movement around the program that can further benefit all children.
Finally, presenting information in a variety of ways to help with comprehension. Using pictures, charts, written words, symbols, and picture schedules will help all children have a better understanding of where toys go, the schedule for the day, what is for lunch/snack among many other uses in the classroom. These help to provide a clear “picture” in each child’s mind about what to expect, how to clean up and even appropriate behavior.
After this discussion, I realize that much of what inclusion is in the classroom environment are things that I have already seen done to support the class as a whole and makes the idea of an inclusive environment less overwhelming.
Watson, A., & McCathren, R. (2009). Including children with special needs: Are you and your early childhood program ready? Young Children.
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