I love creating aesthetically pleasing environments for children! I love the possibilities within each space! I love moving furniture to get just the right placement! I love finding the perfect container for our nature walk treasures! I love adding unique materials to the shelves! And, I love to watch the children discover all that is waiting to be discovered!
Many years ago, when I opened my first child care center, my instinct was to re-create (as closely as I could) the home environment that the children had lived and played in before coming to me.
We had all natural wood furniture, curtains on the windows, and lots of soft spaces. We had baskets of green plants, pottery vases filled with pussy willows, and mason jars full of wild flowers. We baked breads and cookies. Through open windows, we heard the chirping of birds, the wind through the trees. We watched rainbows, shadows, and sunshine on the carpet as the light transformed our space. Outside, we made good use of everything – the pine needled paths through the woods, the pond where we ate snack in our canoe, and the hilly landscape that invited us to roll and roll in the summer and slide on the snow all winter long.
As I look back, I realize that instinctively we were taking our inspiration and shaping our ideas from those places where we experience the world of people and things most fully – through our senses. Our child care environment appealed to our senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. And, it did so naturally! Everything somehow fit together – the color, the light, the natural beauty, the smells, and the sounds.
And, I learned that it is the aesthetic elements of life that make the world a rich experience. They stimulate and nurture our many moods. They are the elements we have in the places where we live – and I think they are the elements we should especially have in settings where children and adults spend their days together.
I am a huge fan of creating inviting, homelike, and aesthetically pleasing environments for young children. These little ones essentially “live” with us five days of the week. Shouldn’t we strike a balance between the living and learning of their days?
Fast forward to my fourth child care center – thirteen years later.
I am reading early childhood environment trends in one of our professional publications:
“The aesthetic appeal is all about color, lighting, display, texture, nature, sounds, and smells; and the warm, home-like feel is about softness, real-life materials blended into the child’s world of things.”
Sometimes, we just know!