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together a puzzle. It requires many pieces that all fit together perfectly. While architects and engineers design buildings, people who know about children create learning environments. To create a quality school-age environment for your program, include the following in your goal setting: • program goals • curriculum • group size • staff-child ratios • equipment and furniture • staff’s needs • families’ needs • children’s needs In addition, the Day in the Life of Your School-Age Program questionnaire (see previous section) can help you begin to set some goals for your program environment. After answering the questionnaire, reread your answers and think about what messages your environment sends out. Circle or highlight the areas that concern you. You may find it helpful to number these in order of priority to decide where to focus first. Choose one or two that are the high- est priorities. Ask yourself how you will know when you have succeeded in making positive changes. Answer the following questions: • How will you measure success? • How long, realistically, will it take to make the needed changes? • What, if any, materials and supplies will you need to complete the changes? Then outline your goals and strategies for the changes you plan to make. Remember, you cannot do everything at once, but with a lot of planning you can create an environment that is exciting and that supports children’s needs every day. It has been said that goals are dreams with a plan and a timeline. Goals provide a basis for a continual process of planning, implementing, and evalu- ating your program. This process helps you see what your program goals need to be. The environmental goals you set will help children to • develop a sense of both independence and connectedness with others; • strengthen their self-help life skills, such as study habits, personal hygiene, healthy lifestyle, and appropriate social interactions; • appreciate themselves; • learn to empathize and respect others; • increase their feelings of self-worth and eagerness to learn; and • experience more successes than failures. 16 • Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL