he early childhood profession has developed many useful environmental
assessment tools and rating scales for programs to use in improving quality. How-
ever, the one you will use here is unlike the others. Instead of evaluating your
space from a set of standards, regulations, or curriculum models, we will help you
reconsider your environment from a child’s point of view. The elements used in
this assessment form the framework of a child-friendly space for living and learn-
ing; they will be discussed at greater length in the rest of this book.
The components listed below are geared toward preschool or school-age
children. If you are not a preschool teacher, you might choose one of the other
assessment tools available in appendix B. There you will find one for family-
friendly environments, another for infant and toddler caregivers, and a third to
assess the caregivers’ and teachers’ work environment.
Put yourself in the shoes of the three- to six-year-old children who spend their
days in your space. Use the statements below, from a child’s perspective, to assess
your space. Write the number of each statement in all of the places on your floor
plan where you are confident the statement is true.
1.I can see who I am and what I like to do at school and at home.
2.There are comfortable places where my tired mommy or daddy, grandma,
or auntie can sit and talk with me or my teacher.
3.The natural world can be found here (such as objects from nature, animals,
4.There is something sparkly, shadowy, or wondrous and magical here.
5.My teacher leaves a special object out here every day so I can keep trying to
figure out more about its properties and how it works.
6.There are materials here that I can use to make representations from what I
understand or imagine.
7.I can feel powerful and be physically active here.
8.I can learn to see things from different perspectives here, literally and
through assuming roles in dramatic play.
9.I see my name written, or I get to regularly write my name here.
10.I get to know my teachers here—what they like, how they spend their time
away from school, and which people and things are special to them.
Now examine your coded floor plan. Did you have trouble finding any of these
components in your room? If so, you will probably find new ways to think about
transforming your environment in this book.
12 DESIGNS FOR LIVING AND LEARNING