Child care is provided in an enriched, interactive environment that is well-suited to meeting the developmental needs of children.
The environment supports positive development and education by providing:
Interpretation: The room should be divided into areas for active and quiet play with low barriers separating dedicated spaces. Quiet space should include soft elements, feel private, and provide an opportunity for activities such as reading, quiet play, or taking a break from group activities while still allowing for visual supervision of children at all times.
Interpretation: Appropriate furniture is defined as furniture that is designed to accommodate the age range of children in the classroom. This can include consideration of the furniture’s size, weight, durability, construction, and material. For example, chairs should be short enough that children can sit in them without having to climb, risking injury from the chair tipping. Additionally, furniture such as bookshelves should be chosen and installed in a secure way that prevents tipping.
The physical facilities, buildings, and grounds of child care centers include:
Interpretation: Quiet and private indoor areas should include areas for parents to breast or bottle feed their children, space for staff to take breaks away from the children, office space, and private areas for parent interviews.
Interpretation: Child care programs located in urban areas with limited outdoor space can accommodate children’s needs for both active and outdoor play by offering larger indoor spaces such as gyms for active play and by taking children to local parks. Additionally a child’s need for outdoor space will vary given his or her age and mobility level. For example, a group of infants would require less square footage of outdoor space than a group of 3 year olds.
Interpretation: Unencumbered indoor space is defined as usable activity space for children. Closed storage areas, indoor space reserved for staff, reception areas, etc. should not be included when determining the amount of unencumbered indoor space available.
Toys and other materials are chosen and updated regularly:
Interpretation: Books, toys, and room décor are examples of ways that diversity can be incorporated into the child care setting. Attention should be given to providing toys and materials that promote a deeper understanding of diversity while avoiding stereotypical images.
Interpretation: The exact toys and materials selected for the classroom will vary based on the above criteria; however, some examples of age-appropriate materials for infant classrooms include:
Examples of age-appropriate materials for toddler classrooms include:
Examples of age-appropriate materials for pre-school classrooms include:
Note: See ECE 7.01 and ECE 7.04 for more information on how toys should be chosen based on curriculum content and ongoing assessments.
Toys and other materials are arranged in a way that:
Interpretation: Toys and other materials should be arranged in a way that makes logical sense and encourages their appropriate use. For example, crayons should be stored with other art supplies, blank paper, and coloring books rather than on the shelf next to books meant for reading. This encourages children to use crayons for their intended purpose and discourages writing in books. However, this is not meant to imply that there is only one way of using each toy. Often times, the best toys and materials are those that can be used in a variety of ways, encouraging creativity and exploration.
The least restrictive environment for infants is chosen at all times including;
Interpretation: Infant swings and jumpers should never be used when infants are sleeping and infants should be attended to whenever they are in use. As with all of the equipment, toys, and materials used in the classroom, the organization should be aware of any product recalls that affect their swings or jumpers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission provides web-based access to a list of product recalls.