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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET This book is structured around these elements, with ideas about how to use them in the larger features and arrangements of your space, and also in the specific details of the learning materials and how they are offered. The following is a brief summary of how we see the foundational ele- ments that are required to go beyond standardized thinking about quality in designing an environment. In the coming pages, a chapter is devoted to each of these elements with further discussion and a range of specific visual examples to study. We use the word “study” here because the images go hand in hand with the text, illuminating each other with their prin- ciples and details. You can become a researcher of your own practice with these elements in mind. Think beyond a Traditional Classroom Early childhood programs can sometimes feel either sterile or cluttered and disorganized. Both possibilities have a negative impact on children. Using commercial catalogs to create classrooms filled with an assortment of bright primary colors and bulletin boards and walls crowded with cartoon alphabet images and look-alike art projects can easily trivialize what childhood is about and what children are capable of. For very young children our profession shouldn’t even be using the language of class- rooms. Jim Greenman suggests we find terms other than “classrooms”— terms such as “home bases” or “learning spaces”—to convey an image other than school for children’s early learning experiences. As they learn to stand, walk, run, and jump, children need spaces for active bodies, for Taylor Center for New Experiences, Chicago Commons Child Development Program (Head Start), Chicago, IL 22  [   Chapter 1 Working in the contexts of an urban center with a notable community history, along with Head Start regulations, this center meets their standards without looking at all like an institution. Here is the required housekeeping area, but it is stocked with familiar home furnishings, including china, glasses, cloth napkins, and living plants. Attention has been given to using various kinds of wood to unite the different elements of the space, making it aesthetically pleasing. All of the required materials to score well on a rating scale are part of this wider space, but none of it looks cluttered. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL