Designing Early Learning Classrooms
Time to Make Some Facility Changes
If you would like to make some changes to your existing facility to support your early childhood education program but don’t have a lot of money, here are some ideas that might work for you.
- Install low sinks in a non-carpeted area for children to easily wash their hands and tools (such as paint brushes).
- Install carpet in the rest of the classroom for sound absorption.
- If you don’t have windowsills, create shelving under the windows to hold science experiments and growing plants that need light, recommends Peter J. Pizzolongo, associate executive director of Washington-based National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (www.naeyc.org).
- Install bulletin board display rails at the students’ eye level on the wall to display artwork and to prevent ripping paint off the wall when removing tape.
- Install solidly constructed storage units with doors so that materials not being used (such as glue, paint and glitter) are out of sight and out of reach of small hands.
- What to do with fluorescent light? Cover the tubes with pink sleeves or installing panels featuring blue sky with white clouds. “This is terrific for classrooms where students have sensory integration delays, ADHD or are hyper sensitive to light,” indicates Barbara Romano, MAEL, principal/early childhood coordinator of Barrington Community Unit School District 220’s Early Learning Center in Illinois.
- Similarly, install different kinds of lighting at different angles to make classrooms feel cozier.
- Speaking of cozy, put an adult-sized and a child-sized rocking chair in each classroom.
- Outfit the entrance to each classroom with cubbies in a U-shape, along with a rug and bench to sit on to take off boots.
- Paint the walls in subdued earth tones for a calming, neutral environment. Color is added in the form of the students’ artwork displayed throughout the room.
This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.