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
- 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.