Spaces and Places for Young Children—Thoughtfully Designed

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! 

Years and 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 us.

We had natural wood furniture, valances on the windows, lots of soft spaces; we had baskets of green plants, pottery vases of pussy willows, mason jars 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, 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 in the places where we live—and I think they are the elements we should have, especially in settings where children and adults spend their days together.

I have always been a proponent of creating inviting, homelike, and aesthetically pleasing environments for young children. The 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 about the new 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!

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