The purpose of this assignment is to give an observation of an inclusive environment that helps children feel welcome and safe. At the same time this assignment gives an opinion on how to improve the child care settings to help children feel more comfortable. The children at the child care centre are three and three and a half years old and it may be hard for children to leave their parents at that age. The setting helps the children feel at home when they come in to the child care centre. In the child care centre there are six areas where the children have the opportunity to play in, such as the block area where all the children’s toys are. The areas have different materials that are available for the children to use in order to develop and introduce the children to different experiences such as in the book area. There are books that have pictures of different animals and this will help the children identify different animals and even spark their interest later on in the day.
Is there outdoor time schedule (or gym time for bad weather?)
In the child care centre, the schedule reflects each child’s needs. The children are restless and they need the time to have fresh air and physical activity. For example, the children have outdoor play twice a day and gym time when the weather is not suitable. The children have at least 2 hours of outdoor play in a day. There is a playground for the children where they can go on the slides, play in the sandbox and there are toys to play with outside. In the gym, there are scooters, mini cars and a smaller playground to play in. The gym has many materials for the children to choose from if they do not want to play with the scooters or the mini cars. There are other options for the children to choose from such as costumes and baby dolls with strollers.
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Is the schedule explained in enough detail that you can understand what children are expected to do during this time period?
“Schedules are typically posted so that children, families and volunteers can anticipate the next event. For younger children the schedule is often displayed in picture form” (P.55)
In the child care centre, there are two schedules in the classroom. The schedule provided for the adults gives specific times such as when it is time for the children to play, eat lunch, snack and go to the washroom. For the children, the schedule is placed at eye level where they can see and it will show the time for their play, snack and lunch but with pictures for the children to understand the schedule.
1b. Describe any changes, suggestions you would recommend to make the schedule in the environment meet the criteria in the environmental assessment tool.
Bullard (2011), states that “Children should not be required to lie on their mats for long periods of time (more than half an hour) when they are not asleep” (p. 63). During rest time, some children are unable to sleep for a longer than thirty minutes. In my placement, some children move from their mats, or play with their blankets. To improve this transition I would have the children who are unable to sleep get together and go to the gym and play until they are tired, so that when they come back to the classroom the children are more likely to fall asleep.
Are children given advance notice that an activity is changing?
“Giving a warning demonstrates that we have respect for children and their work. The time between the warning and the transition allows children to bring closure to the task they are engaged in and to begin planning for the next event” (Bullard 2010 P.61).
After the morning snack, the children are playing in the block area for at least an hour, before recall. This is from 8:30 to 9:30, before 9:30 the teacher will say “Okay, guys, five more minutes.” When the five minutes past the teacher will look at the clock and tell the children, “okay, everyone, two more minutes.” This gives the children an advance notice for the children so they do not feel rushed when the clock shows 9:30. When play time is over the children are more likely to clean up their material and wait for the next event on the schedule.
2b) Describe any changes, suggestions you would recommend to the transitions to meet the criteria in the environmental assessment tool.
“In addition to wasting valuable time and increasing the likelihood of behaviour problems, requiring children to wait with nothing to do is disrespectful” (Bullard 2010 P. 60). In my placement, lunch time has the most waiting time. Sometimes the children will misbehave because they have nothing to do while lunch is being served. The recommendation I would make in order to make this transition easier for the children and the teacher is singing a song as this will help take their minds off of waiting for their food to arrive and singing is one the best way to keep a child entertained.
A) Block Area
B) In the block area there are many materials used by the children every day. The materials vary from dolls, building blocks and construction tools. The learning experiences in the block area help children express how they feel using the materials in front of them. For example, when a child is expressing that they are sad, they might isolate themselves and use the dolls to take their minds off of what they were upset about. The block area also encourages children to cooperate and learn how to share because of the amount of toys that are available in the learning centre.
C) Are there materials that reflect the lives of children with disabilities?
Yes, in the child care centre the block area has dolls with many disabilities to give children exposure to people with special needs. They have dolls from all different backgrounds that have disabilities such as a child in a wheelchair or an elderly person holding a cane. This helps children learn that people can be different and includes every child in the classroom. In my placement there is a child who has a mental disability that is unable to move and he is bound to a wheelchair. Having these dolls in the classroom help include him and show the children that he is not different from the other children.
Are the shelves labeled so that children can easily find items and know where to put them away?
“Appropriate storage can help reduce clutter, saves time and make materials accessible, enhance the rotation of toys and equipment, and maximize the use of resource” (Bullard, 2010 P. 99).
Yes, in the child care centre the block area has many shelves that are labeled with words and pictures. This will help the children organize where they should put the material when it is time to transition to a new event. The shelves are child accessible that they are at their level to reach for the materials and it is very organized so that each child can find what they want without any assistance.
D) In the block area, I feel that the spacing is not inclusive for all children. There is little space for a child in a wheelchair to be included within the block area with the other children. This is not responsive or inclusive because the child with special needs is left out from the activities that the children are participating in. This can cause a problem when he wants to be able to see the other children play. Also the parents and teachers are unable to move in the block area because of the amount of children playing and the toys in the room. This is difficult for when the parents want to be involved with the child’s play.
E) The recommendation I would make in order for the block area to be more inclusive is to arrange the room for more space to include staff and parents. In my placement, I noticed that the amount of children and toys that are placed in the block area does not give a lot of room for the teachers to move around or parents to see what their child is doing. If there was more space, there would be more room for children, parents and staff to be side by side and interact with each other. Another reason more room is important is because the child who is in the wheelchair is unable to join the children in the block area due to lack of space. If they expand the block area the child would be able to be included in the activities with the other children. I would push the shelves back more to give space for all the children and give room for the child with the disability to be able to move inside the block area.
F) Is the environment homelike?
The environment in the block area is somewhat homelike because there are pictures of the families of each child on the wall and there are living things such as plants. The child care centre provides the pictures for the children so that when they miss their parents they are able to look at the pictures in the block area. The child care centre also allows the children to grow their own plants at the centre. This teaches the children about growing plants and gives the environment a homelike feel.
Are there pale and neutral colours used for most walls and shelving?
Yes, the walls in the centre are painted white and the shelves are a natural wood colour. This is important because bright colours cause too much stimulation, especially when the toys and the pictures on the wall should be the main attraction. Neutral colours allow the emphasis to be on the toys and materials in the classroom.
G) In part F), I mentioned that the environment of the block area is somewhat homelike in the child care centre. This is because there is no space for the children to find a quiet spot for their own purposes. According to Bullard (2010), “Solidary retreats provide children the opportunity to think and dream, engage in uninterrupted concentration, regain control of emotion and unwind after intense periods of interaction.” (P. 92). I would have a space outside of the block area for the child if he/ she wants to be alone, then they can leave the block area and sit in the space so that they are able to find their peace of mind.
The environment of the child care centre is homelike for children and helps the children feel comfortable in the room. The transitions between play time and recall help each child get used to the schedule. The teacher is there to assist the children through the transition through early warnings so that the children do not feel rushed when they have to clean up their materials. From my observation, the block area in the child care centre was inclusive. However, there are some recommendations that should be addressed in order to help each child feel more included and reducing the waiting time when transitioning to a new event. The recommendations I made were that they should sing songs during lunch time, expand the block area more to include a child with special needs and find a space for each child in the centre to be alone if they want to. All in all, the centre’s environment has met with each child’s needs in terms of helping them transition from different activities and make them feel comfortable in the classroom.