DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET PEDAGOGY —— AND —— SPACE Design Inspirations for Early Childhood Classrooms Linda M. Zane, EdD EdD Linda Zane, COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Pedagogy and Space COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET pedagogy and space Design Inspirations for Early Childhood Classrooms Linda M. Zane, EdD COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Published by Redleaf Press 10 Yorkton Court St. Paul, MN 55117 www.redleafpress.org Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data © 2015 by Linda M. Zane All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted on a specific page, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or capturing on any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio, television, or the Internet. This book is based on A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein. Copyright © 1977 by Christopher Alexander. Permission granted by the Center for Environmental Structure. First edition 2015 Cover design by Jim Handrigan Cover photograph by Linda M. Zane Interior design by Erin Kirk New Typeset in Chapparal, Glypha, and Tekton Interior photos by Linda M. Zane Printed in the United States of America 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Zane, Linda.   Pedagogy and space : design inspirations for early childhood classrooms / Linda Zane.   pages cm.   Summary: “Colorful photographs of intentionally designed spaces will inspire you as you dream, plan, build, and revamp settings. Inspired by the groundbreaking architectural book A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, this resource aims to glean architectural information regarding important design patterns in an environment and utilize them to provide insight into early childhood environments that are both developmentally appropriate and aesthetically pleasing”— Provided by publisher.   Includes bibliographical references and index.   ISBN 978-1-60554-358-1 (pbk.) 1. Education, Preschool—United States—Planning. 2. Child care—United States—Planning. 3. Classroom environment— United States. I. Title.   LB1140.23.Z36 2015  372.21—dc23 2014021504 Printed on acid-free paper COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET contents Acknowledgments ix Introduction | Why Classroom Design Matters 1 What Is the Feeling Conveyed by Different Classroom Environments?  2 How Does Your Own Classroom Stack Up?  3 Pedagogy and Space  3 Why I Wrote This Book  6 Part 1 | The Importance of Childhood Environments: What Does the Research Say? 9 Theory into Practice  9 The Importance of School Environments  14 A Systemic View of the Environment  15 Barriers to Change  17 Considerations for Change  18 Part 2 | Design Patterns for Early Childhood Classrooms 21 Category 1: Making Connections (General Schemes of Connection) 22 Mosaic of Cultures  23 Intimacy Gradient  25 Communal Eating  26 Classroom Workshop  29 Things from Your Life  30 Connection to the Earth  33 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL |  Contents | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Category 2: Coming and Going (Entrance and Exit) 34 Building Edge  35 Entrance Transition  36 Welcoming Reception  39 Entrance Room  40 Category 3: On the Move! (Circulation) 42 Flow through Rooms  43 Short Passages  44 Category 4: Let the Sunshine In! (Lighting and Color) 46 Indoor Sunlight  47 Pools of Light  48 Tapestry of Light and Dark  51 Warm Colors  53 Category 5: A Place of My Own (Room Structure) 54 Common Areas at the Heart  55 A Space of One’s Own  56 Flexible Classroom Space  59 Window Place  60 Child Caves  63 Bulk Storage  64 Category 6: Be Comfortable (Seating) 66 Sequence of Sitting Spaces  67 Different Chairs  68 Stair Seats  71 Category 7: Take It Outside! (Outdoor Spaces) 72 Adventure Playground  73 Half-Hidden Garden  75 Outdoor Classroom  76 Opening to the Street  79 Applying What You’ve Learned  80 | vi | COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  Contents | Part 3 | Design Patterns Tool Kits: Applying What You’ve Learned 81 Ready, Set, Go!  81 Tool Kit #1: Ready: Reframe, Recruit, Record  81 Tool Kit #2: Set: Story, Spark, Segment  83 Tool Kit #3: Go!: Go What? Go How? Go When? Go Again  85 Pedagogy and Space within Your Classroom  87 Appendix: Design Patterns for Early Childhood Classrooms Worksheet  89 References 91 Index 95 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | vii | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET ack now ledgments Many people have helped bring this book to fruition. A sincere thanks is extended to David Heath, Kyra Ostendorf, and those at Redleaf Press who have allowed me to share the con- cept of Pedagogy and Space with early childhood professionals everywhere. Thanks also to Danny Miller, whose editing contributions masterfully shaped the text into a polished final product. A debt of gratitude goes out to the many Pittsburgh-based National Association for the Education of Young Children–accredited child care programs that graciously agreed to share their inspiring indoor and outdoor spaces. Photos from the following programs are shared within the pages of this book, and I am truly grateful to each for allowing me to capture ele- ments of their wonderful programs. Many of those listed below have been dear friends for a long time, and some are new friends. Thank you to each for your fierce commitment to provid- ing high-quality experiences to the children of Pittsburgh. Thank you as well to the Waldorf School of Philadelphia who generously contrib- uted photos of their whimsical classroom spaces. • The Campus School of Carlow University— Michelle Peduto, Executive Director http://campusschool.carlow.edu • Carriage House Children’s Center— Natalie A. Kaplan, President and Founder www.carriagehouse.org • The Children’s School at Carnegie Mellon University—Dr. Sharon M. Carver, Director and Professor www.psy.cmu.edu/cs • Cyert Center for Early Education— Carla Freund, Administrative Director www.cmu.edu/cyert-center • The Glen Montessori School—Jacqueline Downing Herrmann, Head of Education www.glenmontessori.org • Noah’s Ark Preschool—Gerda K. Moul, Director http://ourredeemer-peters.org/preschool.html • Riverview Children’s Center—Betty Liskowski, Director www.riverviewchildrenscenter.org • Room to Grow Child Development Center— Carrie Dunkowski, Director www.ymcaofpittsburgh.org/room-to-grow COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | ix | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  Acknowledgments | • Shady Lane School—Gina Capriotti, School Director www.shadylane.org • Stepping Stones Children’s Center— Lynn Kline, Director www.stepstonescc.org • Tender Care Learning Centers (Robinson Township Site)—Charzzi White, Director www.earlyeducationpros.org/index.jsp • The Waldorf School of Philadelphia http://phillywaldorf.com | x | I must express my love and gratitude to my ever-supportive husband, Paul, who is a con- stant source of strength, and whose patience and encouragement have seen me through many long days of writing. Much love and gratitude are extended to my daughters, Marissa and Rebecca, for their invaluable assistance at vari- ous stages during the development of the book. My parents, John and Betty Ann Manes, deserve a world of thanks for undergirding me since childhood with unconditional love and a sense of faith and purpose. And I am thankful to my God, who has led, is leading, and will lead me one step at a time, lovingly guiding me through whatever comes my way. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Pedagogy and Space COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET introduction Why Classroom Design Matters Does classroom design matter to you? Does it impact the children in your care? How about the families who visit your program? You spend many of your waking hours in a particular classroom environment. How much time do you spend thinking about the design and arrange- ment of this environment? For many of us, the design of our physical environment is as invisible as the air we breathe or the sun that shines—we just don’t think about it. These invisible elements tend to draw our attention only when they are missing or obviously deficient. But make no mistake, the physical environment in which you spend your time, whether you consciously realize it or not, matters a great deal. If a picture is worth a thousand words, photographs of classroom environments should speak volumes about the learning experiences that occur there. Look closely at the follow- ing photographs of early childhood classroom environments. Each environment has similar elements, but many differences can be seen. If you were a child or teacher in any of these class- rooms, how do you think your daily experiences might differ? COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 1 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  Introduction | What Is the Feeling Conveyed by Different Classroom Environments? Consider the lighting. What is the source of light in each classroom? Do the classrooms seem light and airy, utilizing lots of natural light? Or are they dark and claustrophobic, using mostly artificial light? Consider the materials used in the class- room decor. Are these materials natural or artificial? Do they seem current and fresh, or do they hearken back to an earlier era? Do they project a sense of warmth or a feeling of institutionalization? | 2 | Consider the arrangement of furniture within the classroom. Is the room spacious, allowing for children and teachers to circulate between areas? Or does the room seem crowded, leaving little room to maneuver and visit friends? Consider the learning opportunities afforded by each classroom setting. Does the focal point of the room appear to be play oriented, or is it academically driven? Are interesting, engag- ing activities visible—ones that will promote creative, divergent thinking? Does the atmo- sphere send a message of child-centered explora- tion, or does it seem to reflect teacher-centered instruction? COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  Why Classroom Design Matters | How Does Your Own Classroom Stack Up? Pedagogy and Space Now consider your own classroom or program. How does it compare with those shown here? If you entered your classroom as an outsider, what messages might you pick up based on the physi- cal environment? The purpose of this book is to convince you that classroom design does indeed matter. It matters a great deal. Classroom environments matter to the children who spend many hours in them; they matter to the teachers who plan, teach, and live in them; and they matter to families and visitors who pass through on a daily basis. As educators, pedagogy—the art and science of teaching—lies at the heart of our profession. We study the most current teaching techniques and search for ways of scaffolding a child’s learning toward continuously higher levels. We provide learning opportunities that are hands on, minds on, and feelings on, always striving to engage each child’s interest and attention. We know that children build beliefs and knowledge through active engagement with the world around them, and that they make sense of new information within the context of previous experience. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 3 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  Introduction | Classroom design can have a tremendous impact on your effectiveness as an early child- hood educator. The physical environment of the entirety of your school, as well as your individual classroom, can support successful pedagogy in the following ways: communicating the foundational beliefs on which your program has been built. If this is not currently the case within your school, this should be an area of focused attention for you and your colleagues. Reinforce and Complement Your Teaching Philosophy Any visitor to your program should take one look at your classroom environment and instantly discern your teaching beliefs and philosophy. Are you a constructivist educator? Do you believe in the power of play? Then your class- room should contain complex, open-ended learning centers where the focal point is child- centered play. Are you a Montessori educator? Do you believe in the importance of child-oriented works? Then your classroom should reflect a carefully prepared environment with Montessori materials and curriculum areas throughout. Are you an anthroposophical educator, follow- ing the practices of the Waldorf approach? Then your classroom should be full of natural materi- als, and your classroom walls should be painted in a pale, translucent color. The classroom design, materials, arrange- ment, and colors should speak to all who enter, | 4 | Support Developmentally Appropriate Practices As early childhood educators, our mission is one of fostering a child’s growth and development through developmentally appropriate practices. Children in our programs should be supported through play materials and activities that are appropriate for their stage of development. The physical environment of the classroom is of criti- cal importance in this effort. There are many things to consider when evaluating the developmental appropriateness of a classroom space. Are the play materials safe, and do they foster scaffolding to higher levels of understanding? Are the children regularly exposed to a variety of open-ended materials that heighten their levels of problem solving, inquiry, and creativity? Does the room arrange- ment and the placement of learning centers promote a young child’s need for small, com- fortable spaces that promote collaboration with peers? Are different, yet complementary, play items within close proximity in order to facilitate COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  Why Classroom Design Matters | the blending of materials between learning center areas? Are the play materials sufficiently complex, allowing for appropriate levels of chal- lenge, yet not exceedingly complex, leading to frustration? As you consider the implications of pedagogy and space within your program, rein- forcing developmentally appropriate practices is a critically important factor. Promote a Variety of Learning Styles All children absorb environmental stimuli and make sense of new information through their senses. Your classroom should help children learn and grow by promoting the use of their senses—auditory, visual, and kinesthetic/manip- ulative. The number of materials throughout the classroom that utilize each learning style should be of equal abundance; the room arrangement should invite the children to partake in sensory activities without fear of noise or distraction. Aid in Behavior Management Space can be an invaluable pedagogical tool as you manage and guide children toward making appropriate behavioral choices. Strategically placed learning areas that allow for uninter- rupted play can drastically eliminate problem behaviors. A child who is actively engaged in playful activities, using her mind and body expressively and experientially, will have little need to make poor behavioral choices. In contrast, children who are bored and left with little to appropriately engage their minds or bodies will be much more likely to look for creative ways of entertaining themselves— typically in ways that are more rambunctious or rowdy. Likewise, large open areas of space that do not contain learning centers can often invite aimless running around and disengaged children. Boredom rarely leads to positive behav- ioral choices. Classroom space and materials can play an important role in maintaining positively engaged hands and minds. Be Aesthetically Pleasing A clean, pleasant, and aesthetically pleasing environment can greatly enhance the space that you inhabit every day. Each teacher, child, family member, and visitor deserves to spend his or her time in a space that is both pleasant and inspir- ing. Such an environment sends a message of respect and appreciation for all who inhabit the space. Furthermore, the more aesthetically pleasing the environment, the more we are subliminally encouraged to maintain the space at its current high level. Sustaining cleanliness and beauty by COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 5 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  Introduction | both educators and children is much easier once a high standard has been set for all. Why I Wrote This Book As the former director of a National Association for the Education of Young Children–accredited early childhood program, I must confess that classroom design used to be rather low on my list of priorities. My role as the leader of the pro- gram was to ensure that the children and fami- lies received the best possible care. Shepherding a developmentally appropriate teaching staff; | 6 | creating relationships with teachers, chil- dren, and families; and caring for the health and welfare of everyone involved seemed of utmost importance. Little time was left for seemingly frivolous concerns such as class- room design. With age comes wisdom, and I can now see that I was unknowingly overlooking a criti- cal piece of the puzzle—the intersection of pedagogy and space. I have since witnessed a variety of early childhood spaces—some that are dull and lifeless, and others that exude the vibrancy and excitement that only come from COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  Why Classroom Design Matters | paying attention to the classroom environment. If only I knew then what I know now . . . Well, suffice it to say that my early childhood program would have looked very different. Granted, the classrooms in my child care center weren’t horrible, and there were quite a few elements of which I am still proud, includ- ing turning a stairwell landing into a “bear cave,” a small space that was home to a huge stuffed bear where a teacher could read with her group of children. But the majority of the program was merely functional, without any attention paid to the “extras”—creative lighting solutions, inviting window places, and the use of natural materials, to name a few. This book has grown out of my personal need for an expanded understanding beyond the insular field of early childhood education. Architecture was always instinctively intrigu- ing to me, and my physical space has always impacted my mood. But having a daughter who was studying to be an architect brought those instincts to the forefront of my atten- tion. Once I was in the mind-set to understand, blending architectural insights with early childhood expertise seemed quite natural and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 7 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  Introduction | logical. Age and wisdom have brought me out of the fog. Of course exciting spaces lead to more engag- ing exploration and critical thinking opportuni- ties! It’s obvious to me now that unique lighting can provide warmth and interest to a room. And using a variety of types of chairs naturally adds interest, comfort, and expanded relationship opportunities. So many ideas all within reach— if only I had discovered them earlier! | 8 | Hence this book. It is not too late for you to transform your space into a truly unique envi- ronment. I hope the patterns and suggestions found in this text will encourage you to take an unbiased, objective look at your classroom. Many simple changes can be made to trans- form your room into a great space that engages the hearts and minds of those who spend time within. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Pa rt 1 The Importance of Childhood Environments: What Does the Research Say? Theory into Practice When considering the foundational educational approaches that one associates with early child- hood education, it’s easy to see the considerable role that environment plays within the practice of each approach. The physical characteristics of any classroom are an outward manifestation of its philosophy; consequently, the behaviors and educational programs are equally impacted (Horne Martin 2002). Conversely, if one’s philosophical approach to education is vague and undefined, the physical environment will lack focus and purpose. The teacher’s philosophi- cal beliefs about teaching and learning should be reflected in her pedagogical methods, sup- ported by the materials and arrangement of the classroom space. A harmony should exist between space and learning; form should fol- low function by adapting the classroom space to harmoniously support the approach to learning found within (Montgomery 2008). The impor- tance of childhood environments, as reflected by the practices of the constructivist educational approach, the Reggio Emilia approach, the Waldorf approach, and the Montessori approach, are explored below. Constructivist Educational Approach The theory of constructivism, which strives to explain how a child builds his understanding of the world, is fundamentally based on the importance of environment. A child’s construc- tion of knowledge does not result from concrete bits of information that are memorized; rather, knowledge construction is a dynamic experience that is continuously built through interactions with the world (Ackermann 2004). Children use their prior knowledge of the world, along with current experiences within the spaces they inhabit, to gain a greater understanding of life. Each new experience allows the child to build, modify, and reinterpret perceptions; children constantly alter their conceptual understand- ings, aided by environmental interactions COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 9 | |  Part 1 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Learning centers play an important role in constructivist early learning programs. Exposure to a variety of materials, typically arranged by content area, helps children in their physical, intellectual, emotional, and social growth. (Grabinger and Dunlap 1995). A child’s lived environment therefore plays a decisive role in the quality and depth of his knowledge attainment—both in and out of school. For this reason alone, the spaces in which children live and learn serve an elemental role in their growth and development. Reggio Emilia Educational Approach The Reggio Emilia approach elevates the impor- tance of the environment by identifying it as a child’s “third teacher,” along with the child’s parent and the classroom teacher (Halpin 2007; | 10 | Strong-Wilson and Ellis 2007). The Reggio Emilia approach believes that classroom spaces have an equal voice to parents and teachers. By way of invitation, the spaces and materials can speak to the children, offering aesthetically interest- ing and creatively challenging exploration. Through documentation, long-term projects are captured for posterity along with written and photographic evidence of the spaces involved. The documentation in a Reggio Emilia classroom reflects the history of the relationships between people, space, and pedagogy, creating wonder- ful representations of children’s learning and development. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  The Importance of Childhood Environments: What Does the Research Say? | Evidence of artfully designed spaces abounds within a Reggio Emilia–inspired program. The documentation of children’s projects, attention to light, and presence of bright, cozy spaces that are aesthetically inspiring are hallmarks of the importance placed on the environment within a Reggio Emilia–inspired early learning program. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 11 | |  Part 1 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Waldorf Educational Approach Rudolf Steiner’s beliefs about education and life are reflected within Waldorf schools (as they are called in the United States; in Europe they are typically referred to as Steiner schools). Steiner’s holistic approach of incorporating the body, mind, and spirit is infused in all aspects of the physical classroom space. Steiner was relatively prescriptive regarding the ideal classroom space, which was an outgrowth of his spiritual ideas and his concern for establishing a proper founda- tion for children. All Waldorf classrooms exhibit a distinctive aesthetic environment, as reflected in the wall colors and painting treatments, natural materials, artwork, draped fabric, and unfinished wooden imaginative toys (Uhrmacher 2004). Steiner believed that light, color, and form were all crucial ways to support a child’s spirit—all equally critical aspects of a Waldorf school’s distinctive physical environment. Learning spaces that promote fantasy, imagination, and creativity are typically found within a Waldorf school. The use of natural, unfinished play materials, along with fanciful draping and room coloration all point to a learning environment that upholds Rudolf Steiner’s belief in nurturing the whole child. | 12 | COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  The Importance of Childhood Environments: What Does the Research Say? | Montessori Educational Approach Maria Montessori’s beliefs regarding the ways children learn best are mirrored within the Montessori educational environment. Montessori believed that children grow within six-year cycles of development, each characterized by certain sensitivities that must be recognized and enhanced by both adults and the physi- cal environment. Every Montessori classroom exhibits a “prepared environment” containing “self-correcting materials,” which allow the child to independently interact with the materials and then self-check for accuracy, all housed within a number of curriculum areas (Edwards 2002, 9). Montessori spaces should reflect beauty and order, allowing the child to have long spans of time during which she is immersed in real work. To stress the importance of a child’s develop- ment through engaging in meaningful work, classroom materials within the Montessori Maria Montessori’s belief that a child will respond positively to a carefully prepared environment, filled with self-correcting materials arranged in left-to-right progression on orderly shelves, is evidenced within any Montessori classroom. The works are arranged within curriculum areas, allowing for freedom within limits and a child’s growing ability to practice self-discipline. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 13 | |  Part 1 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET approach are called “works.” Every aspect of the Montessori philosophy is both supported by and demonstrated through the physical environment, encouraging a student’s freedom within limits and focused self-discipline. Similar to the Reggio Emilia and the Waldorf educational approaches, the Montessori classroom clearly and distinctly echoes its philosophical beliefs—the outward manifestation of the pedagogy of space. The Importance of School Environments Because the environment plays such a funda- mental role within the development of a child, it stands to reason that much attention would be devoted to the architectural spaces occupied by children. Although each of the educational approaches mentioned above (constructivist, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and Montessori) has a distinct aesthetic resulting from its philosophical beliefs, the majority of schools do not reflect this precedent. In his article titled “Utopian Spaces of ‘Robust Hope’: The Architecture and Nature of Progressive Learning Environments,” author David Halpin (2007, 247) claims that “architec- ture for childhood” has not been as serious a consideration as it warrants. According to Halpin, any attention paid to architecture for children has unfortunately been dominated by adult concerns, including economic and professional | 14 | considerations. While there is no broadly accepted utopian architectural theory dictating the most appropriate educational environments for chil- dren, nearly all educators would agree that the spaces children inhabit are of critical importance. A number of researchers and experts have investigated the impact of school environ- ments on children’s growth and development. Researchers have also addressed the importance of school environments in regard to teach- ers, families, and the community. According to Leanne G. Rivlin and Carol S. Weinstein (1984), schools are places where learning, socialization, and psychological development coincide. Because children spend many of their waking hours there, schools must be recognized as crucial places that maintain a significant and continuing presence in children’s lives. Children certainly do spend a great deal of their time in schools. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, accessed 2014) reported that the average American schoolchild spends approximately 1,300 hours in a school building each year. And a growing number of those schools are aging and/or dilapidated. Currently, the average age of a public school building in the United States is forty-two years, and more than 75 percent of U.S. public schools were built before 1970. According to the most recent comprehensive federal report on the condition of American public schools, at least COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  The Importance of Childhood Environments: What Does the Research Say? | $127 billion would be needed to bring all of the nation’s schools into good condition (U.S. Department of Education 2000). If a growing number of American schools are aging and/or dilapidated, what message does that send regarding the importance of a child’s education? The way in which a school building is designed and maintained sends a clear message to the children, staff, and community about the value placed on the activities occurring within (Uline, Tschannen-Moran, and DeVere Wolsey 2009). Students subjected to school buildings with chipped and peeling paint, leaking roofs, and boarded windows could naturally conclude that education is not valued by their community—and the unfortunate addendum to that message is that they are not valued. Many students are resilient and do not allow such barriers to stand in the way of their education, but such subliminal messages can only lead to long-term harm within a com- munity. Conversely, time spent on making practi- cal and artful changes to a school’s environment increases the complexity of meaning and purpose that teachers and students assign to their educa- tional experiences. A Systemic View of the Environment A classroom is more than a collection of items found within a space; it is a complex system of relationships. One finds an intricate inter- relationship between the physical structure of the room, the arrangement and distribution of space, and the individuals (teachers and stu- dents) who share the space. When time is spent improving the physical environment, the class- room system and its relationships are likewise significantly improved (Horne Martin 2002). For true integrity to be present within the space, the classroom environment should be a direct reflec- tion of the educators’ philosophical approach. The school must also be viewed as a series of interconnected systems of communications and relationships (Rinaldi 1998). These relationship- oriented systems must include all stakeholders, including teachers, children, and parents. Such a systems focus will naturally extend to the spaces within the school. The architecture should sup- port both the pedagogy and the relational systems that are undertaken at the school (Rinaldi 1998). Ideally, classrooms should open to shared spaces where relationships among groups of children and adults can be fostered throughout the day. Classroom physical environments should also be systems that support emotional growth and well-being. Space can be structured to reflect a welcoming and caring tone to all who enter. Children who are intellectually and emotion- ally engaged are more likely to express feelings of support and security. As discovered by one research study, when asked to describe favorite COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 15 | |  Part 1 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET (important, liked, and valued) places in their daily surroundings, both children and adoles- cents chose places that were relaxed, calm, and comfortable (Korpela 2002). This finding indi- cates that favorite places are essential for provid- ing an emotional release and imparting a restor- ative experience—desired emotional responses that help to promote learning. The Classroom Environment and Achievement A school building that provides a high-quality learning environment is essential for student success. Research has linked student achieve- ment with optimal physical environmental characteristics. Several studies have shown, on average, a five- to seventeen-point increase on achievement tests for students who attended a more modern, above-standard school building rather than an antiquated, more substandard building, regardless of the socioeconomic status of the school district (Berner 1993, Cash 1993, and Hines 1996). It is also important to note that, as a group, these studies reflected a variety of student populations—Washington, DC, rural and urban Virginia, and North Dakota. Together they present a unified rationale for the impact of a school’s physical environment on student achievement. Building age has also been correlated with student achievement. The age of a building is not | 16 | important per se, but most newer buildings tend to have better heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation, as well as improved acoustics—all of which lead to classroom environments that are more conducive to learning (Earthman and Lemasters 1996). Many older buildings may not have sufficient or appropriate lighting. Because of the advances in building materials that sup- port a more positive learning environment, students in more modern buildings have been shown to outperform students in older buildings on achievement tests (Earthman 2002). The school’s physical environment has also been shown to influence student attendance and dropout rates. In a 2004 study, using data from 226 Houston Independent School District schools, David Branham (2004) discovered that schools that were in poor structural shape— those using temporary rather than permanent structures, and schools without adequate custodial upkeep—were associated with higher dropout and lower attendance rates. Branham concluded that the negative physical environ- ment and lack of attention to school facilities led to performance inadequacies. Color used within the classroom can be indirectly related to student performance as well. Kristi S. Gaines and Zane D. Curry (2011) performed a thorough review of the prevailing research literature, investigating the effects of color on learning and behavior. Their analysis led COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  The Importance of Childhood Environments: What Does the Research Say? | them to conclude that the most effective color schemes for the foundation of a room are warm neutral colors, such as tan or sand. Additionally, the wall that students see after looking up from working at their desks should be a medium tone within the same color range. Contrary to the preferences of many teachers, the research- ers found that strong or primary colors are not effective, and softer colors, such as pastel greens or blues, are preferred. Also, using different colored tape to indicate boundaries within the room can benefit all students, as well as incorpo- rate children’s individual color preferences in a variety of ways. Gaines and Curry concluded that color can impact student attention, behavior, and achievement, and it should be an important consideration within classroom design. Barriers to Change Quite often one barrier to making changes in a classroom environment stems from a human tendency to see things only as they are right now, rather than how they could change and improve—especially when a teacher sees many daunting limitations within the classroom space. A number of research studies have found that a classroom’s current arrangement of physical space has a great deal to do with maintaining the status quo, rather than searching for ways to incorporate more effective teaching practices (Woolner et al. 2012). For instance, Sandra Horne Martin (2002) found that the more tra- ditional configuration of placing desks in rows within secondary school classrooms was associ- ated with traditional teacher-directed teaching methods. This contrasts with more student- centered modes of teaching where students work at tables in collaborative groups or perform inde- pendent tasks within a variety of unique seating spaces in and out of the classroom. Established cultural norms promote the notion of a classroom having a privileged front space. In our mind’s eye, many of us carry tradi- tional scenes of teachers lecturing in front of the class; this historic classroom schema can serve as a barrier to environmental change. Such a class- room setup can also prove to be less effective for all learners. Many who teach in the classic classroom setting can attest that often students who choose to minimize academic challenge and personal exposure gravitate toward the seats that are farthest from the front, usually around the perimeter of the classroom (Montgomery 2008). From the moment the students walk through the doorway, they quickly evaluate the room arrangement; if the room contains rows of desks, they sit where they feel most comfortable and where they will be either visible or invisible. If the room is filled with collaborative tables or interesting seating areas that are scattered about COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 17 | |  Part 1 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET the room, students react accordingly. Therefore, one can conclude that students are guided toward learning expectations based on the space, since the room arrangement signals the activi- ties expected. The form and nature of the setting impact students’ anticipated experiences, just as they subtly lead the instructor toward pre- conceived notions of the types of learning that should occur, as well as his or her role as pur- veyor of knowledge. Similarly, David R. McNamara and David G. Waugh (1993) deduced that teachers appeared to group children for collaborative work as dictated by the available furniture already in the room. Placing students in working groups of four to six students was typical. McNamara and Waugh concluded this was not a pedagogical decision, aimed at improving group cohesion, but rather a practical one, prescribed by table size and configuration. It often appears that the existing physical arrangement lends itself to maintaining the current state of affairs rather than seeking out substantive changes. A barrier to change could also result from a lack of environmental or design training within teacher preparation programs. Jeffrey A. Lackney and Paul J. Jacobs (2002) discovered that, among the twelve national board certi- fied teachers they interviewed and observed, none reported having any preservice training on design principles. Likewise, none of the | 18 | educators reported receiving any instruction on adapting their physical classroom setting to be more complementary to the curriculum. Lackney and Jacobs discovered that this lack of envi- ronmental knowledge led to the teachers rely- ing solely on trial and error rather than sound research-based design principles. Teacher preparation programs that ignore topics related to the classroom physical environ- ment send an unfortunate message that such matters are trivial and unimportant. By offering such insights, a teacher education program could be deepened and strengthened. Lackney and Jacobs also recommend that teacher prepara- tion programs offer hands-on experience with classroom physical environments. Preservice educators should be allowed to manipulate the physical environments of classrooms within a variety of age levels, testing their design ideas and adapting classroom space to better accom- modate curricular decisions. Considerations for Change Education in the twenty-first century must change in order to adapt to an increasingly global view of the world, aided by a tidal wave of new technologies. Technology is “wiring” children’s brains differently than previous generations, leading to differing educational abilities and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET |  The Importance of Childhood Environments: What Does the Research Say? | requirements—starting with the youngest tod- dlers who adeptly navigate a tablet device or smartphone. We are caring for infants and tod- dlers who will be designing and manufacturing technological devices that do not even exist today. Faced with an ever-changing world that requires adaptability to the knowledge and skills neces- sary for success, one must consider ways in which children’s classroom spaces reflect the dynamic needs occurring within education (Pearlman 2010). There is an increasing call for schools to transition from places filled with teacher-directed, whole-group instruction, to spaces reflecting learner-centered, collaborative, and project-based learning, aided by available technological tools. Schools of the future must incorporate a vari- ety of learning zones, allowing for collaboration among peers and interactive projects that incor- porate an integrated curricular focus (AAF and KnowledgeWorks Foundation 2005). Children of today are not the same as children of yesterday: their learning tools, modes of thinking, and skill needs are continuously changing. Their class- rooms and learning spaces must likewise mirror the twenty-first-century revolution. One important trend in school design centers on the inclusion of multiple voices during the investigatory and planning stages. Collaborative school design can lead to long-term, successful, and sustainable spaces for children (Woolner et al. 2012). In an Improving Schools journal article titled “Changed Learning through Changed Space: When Can a Participatory Approach to the Learning Environment Challenge Preconceptions and Alter Practice?”, the authors posit that involving all stakeholders—children, parents, teachers, school administrators, and community members—is a necessary part of any design process. Architects and builders are often unfamiliar with the needs of a particular school. Consulting with school administrators is typically part of the planning process; however, this leads to a narrowing of appreciation and understanding of all that can be accomplished by including additional perspectives and points of view. The consultation of those directly involved in the daily running of the school can lead to greater levels of long-term satisfaction, as well as the improved use of the space. Participatory design, especially among educators and other staff members, increases buy-in and apprecia- tion of the new surroundings, leading to greater use of the space. As is often the case, the greater one’s level of involvement is from the beginning, the more intense one’s interest, desire, and use will be at the end. Researchers within the fields of early child- hood education and the sociology of childhood have shown an increasing level of interest regard- ing the importance of allowing the voices of young children to be heard within the planning process. Alison Clark and Peter Moss developed COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 19 | |  Part 1 | DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET the Mosaic approach (Clark 2010; Clark and Moss 2001, 2005) as an extension of their desire to be respectful of children’s ideas and allow them to engage in meaningful discussions about their surroundings. The Mosaic approach consists of two stages. The first stage involves children and adults gathering documentation relevant to the task. Pieces of the Mosaic that are used for documentation include child observations, child conferencing (similar to focus group discussions), cameras (photography by the child), tours (child- led tours of the school and grounds), mapping (as a result of the tour), and role playing (using toy figures) (Clark and Moss 2001). The second stage involves the whole of the data being brought together, allowing for dialogue, reflection, and interpretation. After the pieces of the Mosaic documentation are gathered, they are discussed and thoughtfully processed among all of the stakeholders—teachers, children, and parents— with any number of combinations participating at any one time. Such reflections and interpreta- tions allow for themes and patterns to emerge, revealing the children’s views on their interior and exterior environment. The Mosaic approach allows children to be active, competent partici- pants and skilled communicators, rather than passive and voiceless partakers of that which is given by adults. | 20 | Children and young people are increasingly being recognized as competent members of society, active in shaping public structures and social identities (Burke and Grosvenor 2003). For too long, authentic invitations to partici- pate in the complex challenges of school change have not been open to young people. Schools are often places of adult-imposed control—control in the buildings inhabited, the space created, and the materials provided. Control is imposed within the cultural conventions and institutional practices of school, such as being segregated by age, following a structured timetable of events, and executing rule-driven activities. A twenty- first-century mind-set requires a shift in perspec- tive, encouraging an openness and transparency within the learning environment, and sparking the passion of the learner as he is involved in the nature, use, and design of the school. Certainly, any educator believing in a true pedagogy of space should welcome the opinions and desires of children; it is they who are ultimately the active partakers of the benefits (as well as the detri- ments) of that space. As you proceed with your own evaluation of your physical spaces, I urge you to consider the unique ideas and perspectives of all of the stakeholders—including the children— and honestly invite each to partake in the process of school change. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION / ENVIRONMENTS TRANSFORM your SPACE into a vibrant, creative learning environment The design of your early learning environment matters. Physical spaces can reinforce and complement your teaching philosophy, support developmentally appropriate practices, promote a variety of learning styles, and aid in behavior management. Pedagogy—the art and science of teaching—lies at the heart of your profession as an educator. You meticulously plan and implement experiences that capture children’s interests and support discovery and critical thinking opportunities. A high-quality learning environment is an essential part of creating those moments. “Pedagogy and Space is positioned to become a required reading for all early childhood educators, administrators, and policy makers. This textbook provides us, as advocates, the research we need to ensure that early childhood policies reflect a commitment to teacher professional development and to providing children with the opportunity to learn in environments that truly reflect the importance of the first five years of life.” — Michelle Figlar Executive Director, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children This book will help you imagine, plan, and then transform your early childhood setting into a space that engages children’s hearts and minds. Filled with colorful, inspiring photographs of intentionally designed spaces, this resource provides great ideas that can be applied to your own classroom—without needing to start from scratch or spend a lot of money. You will learn what research and theory say about learning spaces, and you’ll gain insight on the architectural strategy that supports design patterns. LINDA M. ZANE has served as assistant professor of Early Childhood Education at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania since 2009. Prior to this, she was adjunct professor of Early Childhood Education at Duquesne University for nine years. Dr. Zane was the director of an accredited early childhood program for ten years before moving to higher education. She holds an EdD in Instructional Leadership from Duquesne University. ISBN 978-1-60554-358-1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL $24.95