- Accessibility Materials meant for children are easily available for independent use.
- Balance There’s a balance in spaces and materials between quiet/loud, big/small, open/closed, soft/rigid, novel/familiar, and group/individual.
- Choice Children have opportunities to choose from a variety of activities and materials whenever possible.
- Diversity The materials, activities, and physical space reflect the diversity of the children, including their diverse cultural backgrounds, families, and physical and emotional needs.
- Engagement The environment engages children in many different ways.
- Flexibility The environment is designed to allow adjustment in materials, learning areas, and daily schedule in response to children’s needs.
- Groups There is adequate space for both whole- and small-group gatherings.
- Humor Children’s humor is incorporated into the learning environment.
- Independence Children can create their own activities and use learning areas independently.
- Joy The sheer joy of learning is ever-present.
- Kindness The physical and social environment encourages children to be considerate of and kind to one another.
- Literacy Children’s language, books, and meaningful print are integrated into activities around the room and throughout the day.
- Memories Children’s experiences are recorded and displayed through drawings, photos, writing, and other creations.
- Nurturing Children share feelings, sit on laps, receive and give hugs, and have ample one-on-one time with adults.
- Ownership Children can collaborate to help design and enhance their classroom. Each child has a place in the room that is his or hers — a cubby, a mailbox, a shoe box, and so on.
- Privacy The environment allows children to do things alone when they wish to.
- Questions The environment invites children to ask questions and solve problems.
- Richness The benefits of a rich and varied curriculum are apparent in the classroom.
- Systems Management systems and daily routines are built in and children have input into rules and classroom systems.
- Time Children are given more time when they need it to enjoy and get the most out of activities and to complete projects.
- Unity There is a unifying vision for the environment that includes the perspectives of children, as well as of the teacher.
- Voices Children’s voices and opinions are welcomed and encouraged!
- World Children’s outside world is reflected in their classroom.
- Examination Teachers continually examine children’s needs and make adjustments in the environment accordingly.
- Yes There is a positive atmosphere where yes is more prevalent than no.
- Zzzz There is time and space for rest, relaxation, and, if necessary, sleep.
This easy checklist will help you reflect on the physical space, interactions, and systems that make up your classroom learning environment.
PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5