3.3 The learning environment
This area features research and resources to support effective practice in understanding the learning environment across the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
The emotional environment
- The emotional environment is created by all the people in the setting, but adults have to ensure that it is warm and accepting of everyone.
- Adults need to empathise with children and support their emotions.
- When children feel confident in the environment they are willing to try things out, knowing that effort is valued.
- When children know that their feelings are accepted they learn to express them, confident that adults will help them with how they are feeling.
- Being outdoors has a positive impact on children's sense of well-being and helps all aspects of children's development.
- Being outdoors offers opportunities for doing things in different ways and on different scales than when indoors.
- It gives children first-hand contact with weather, seasons and the natural world.
- Outdoor environments offer children freedom to explore, use their senses and be physically active and exuberant.
- The indoor environment provides a safe, secure yet challenging space for children.
- For some children, the indoor environment is like a second 'home', providing a place for activity, rest, eating and sleeping.
- The indoor environment contains resources which are appropriate, well maintained and accessible for all children.
- Indoor spaces are planned so that they can be used flexibly and an appropriate range of activities is provided.
- Finding ways to promote the importance and value of the outdoor environment to all those involved in the setting, for example, the senior management team, other professionals, staff and parents.
- Meeting the needs of children of different ages in a shared outdoor space.
- Overcoming problems in accessing and using the outdoor environment because of the design or organisation of the building.
- Ensuring the indoor environment is 'homely' enough to feel comfortable while providing an environment suitable for learning.
- Reflecting on practice
- What support is available to practitioners who may feel 'drained' emotionally when a child requires extensive support for their feelings of sadness, anger or frustration?
- How well do you reflect examples of outdoor learning in your observations and assessments of children?
- Does indoor provision meet the needs of all the children as both a place to feel 'at home' and a place to learn?
- How do you ensure that the deployment of staff is flexible enough to respond to the flow and movement of children between indoors and outdoors?
Find out how to provide a learning environment that best supports children during the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It explains the importance of outdoor as well as an indoor space where children can explore, learn and develop with the support of sensitive, knowledgeable adults.