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What is the ideal preschool learning environment?

What you should look for in a preschool classroom

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Preschool prepares young children for the school years. For many kids, it provides their first structured learning environment.

The preschool classroom

Preschools, like daycares, vary in their classroom setups. They organize and design their classroom in different ways. Sometimes this is based on a specific preschool approach, such as Montessori, Waldorf, or Reggio Emilia.

There is no one correct classroom layout or design. The classroom should reflect the aims of the preschool. It should reflect a school's main educational and developmental goals. The preschool learning environment should, then, promote some key objectives.

  • Learning
  • Group work
  • Individual work
  • Interaction
  • Socializing
  • Physical activity

It should also help kids acquire and develop some key traits.

  • Curiosity
  • A love of learning
  • Social skills
  • Cooperation
  • Independence
  • Confidence
  • Concentration
  • Discipline
  • Responsibility


Preschool questions (read our in-depth answers)

Answers to the question “What is the ideal learning environment preschool?” from educational consultants and school officials

“A preschool learning environment should provide a pleasurable mix of learning opportunities and play—a place where children’s curiosity is encouraged, and wonder and inquiry are integral aspects of the program. It has a broad range of activities, including interactive, motor, listening, and sensory experiences.” Joanne Foster, educational specialist, and co-author (with Dona Matthews) of Beyond Intelligence, Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids

“The ideal preschool environment should be an engaging and aesthetically-pleasing space. The environment should be organized with materials carefully selected to engage children in developmentally appropriate learning tasks. Children should be interacting with each other and with teachers in small groups throughout the room. Whole-group activities like circle time should be for only short amounts of time.” Kate Meadowcroft, teacher at Elmwood School (the early years program), in Ottawa, Ontario

“Classrooms inside and outside should be clean, child-friendly, and well equipped for children to safely explore materials and engage in opportunities that include music, art, science, math, block play, sand, water, language and dramatic play. Teachers should provide age-appropriate small and large group activities and create an environment that embraces the idea that all students can learn.” Stacy Paton, ECE program manager of Queen Margaret’s School, in Duncan, British Columbia

“A preschool classroom should be well lit and inviting with student work posted around the classroom, not commercial posters that carry no meaning to the child(ren) in the environment. Open-ended toys and materials should be readily accessible to promote creativity and a mini-library should also be available to promote literacy and a love for reading. Our preschool room possesses all these qualities. Additionally, we have real plants and pets to nurture care and responsibility.” Nora Ibrahim, preschool teacher and IB PYP (Primary Years Program) coordinator at Académie de la Capitale, in Ottawa, Ontario

Click here to view a list of preschools





Series: Preschools

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