Quality by Design working document:

Elements of a high quality early learning and child care system. [pdf, 8pp, 241KB]

Physical environment

The program setting that includes…

· Sufficient well-designed indoor and outdoor space

· First-rate equipment and program resources

· Amenities such as staff room, outside play space, kitchen, windows for natural light

· Connections to the surrounding community

Elements of ELCC environments such as amount of space, access to the outdoors, arrangement of rooms, availability of a variety of materials, air quality, equipment, and lighting play a role not only in safety and health but in children’s well-being, happiness and creativity, their learning to live in and with the natural environment and their cognitive and social development. In addition, elements of the physical environment such as how easy or difficult it is to carry out a program in, whether there are physical amenities that support staff — a staff room and adequate program resources — and whether the nature of the facility conveys that early childhood education is a respected, valued career have an impact on the morale of the people working in the program and, thus, on the quality of the program. In addition — as some commentators have pointed out — as children are the least powerful stakeholders, it is important to find ways to involve them in considering ELCC’s physical environments.

Supporting good physical environments means not only high standards or regulations regarding, for example, the number and placement of toilets, windows, exit doors, kitchen and food preparation requirements, placement of sinks for hand washing, height of fencing although these are clearly important and cannot be overlooked. In addition to these basic health and safety considerations, today there is considerable interest in and knowledge concerning design and architecture of children’s environments with emphasis on creativity, physical activity, social and cognitive development, aesthetic considerations, and how the physical environment can support rather than hinder implementation of excellent early childhood programs and ensure their visibility as a valued community institution.



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