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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET discovering friendships, and for exploring the wonder of the world. They need opportunities to be trusted with real tools and breakable materi- als. Designing environments for living and learning with children has to take into account brain research and the role of aesthetics, lighting, color, and smells in helping children focus and enjoy learning about learning. Designers have to be thoughtful in planning storage and looking at hall- ways, bathrooms, and outdoor places so that none of them look institu- tional for the one childhood our youngest citizens are allowed. Create Connections, a Sense of Place and Belonging Have you noticed that the strongest drive underlying children’s daily expe- riences is the desire to have relationships with others and to be a member of a group? Because young children spend the majority of their waking hours away from their homes and families, they need us to help them maintain connections with their homes while they form new friendships and become part of a wider community. Our programs need to connect children to a sense of place in their community—the people, places, and natural world around them—and foster their growing identity. When your environment has a cozy, homelike feel that allows for and encourages strong connections among the people there, children will experience a sense of belonging and security. Throughout your building This early childhood classroom is designed to welcome not only the families whose children are enrolled, but those in the wider community its organization serves. Notice the objects and furniture that add beauty and softness, while plants and natural materials add interesting dimensions. The shelf and the basket filled with books invite adults to linger with their children, as do the tiered tables with things to explore. Photos of the children enrolled immediately create a sense of “who lives here,” as do the smaller, framed photos of them at work and the displays of their art on the wall. Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, United Way Bright Beginnings, Houston, TX L ay a Foundation for Liv ing and L ear ning COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ] 23