Power of the Environment


During my 20 plus years as an Early Years Educator I have seen many classrooms.

I love walking into an Early Years classroom where I see and hear students playing. They are engaged, energized and empowered! Well actually sometimes they are sound asleep and exhausted too! These students have been so busy exploring, creating and connecting with their environment.

When I think about environment I think of environment as another teacher that interacts purposefully with students, parents and teachers. In this environment we find beauty and intention, but there are also ‘knots and ping pongs’ (Shana Upiter @shanaupiter from Mt Scopius.)

“We value space because of its power to organize, promote pleasant relationships among people of different ages, create a handsome environment, provide changes, promotes choices and activity, and provide the potential for sparking all kinds of social, affective, and cognitive learning. (Loris Malaguzzi, personal communication 1984)

For the environment to act as the third teacher, the environment needs to be considered thoughtfully to promote wonder, movement, collaboration and to inspire and encourage children to respond and engage with learning by being creative and innovative.

It is important to design spaces that are not only warm, aesthetically beautiful, inquiry driven and rich in provocations but also accommodate large and small groups of students, the individual student and, parents and teachers. Spaces that are both engaging and evolving, spaces that are a part of our every day planning. Spaces that give students cues as to the what, why and how to use them. Spaces that allow teachers the time to ‘notice and name’ the learning.

The classroom will be the place in which students and teachers spend more of their time (awake) than any other place during the year. Does it not make sense for this space to be as engaging, beautiful, comfortable and appealing as possible.

When setting up a classroom consider how to simplify, how to create a “blank canvas” for students and how to make the classroom a place that students and teachers look forward to going to every day.

With careful thought and effort, teacher’s can create “lovely seductive places” that students will love to learn in.