The Early Years Classroom has probably the biggest impact on a child’s ability and willingness to learn, and the layout, equipment and early years school furniture should all be designed to stimulate that learning.
When designing the layout of your early years classroom make sure there is room to move around freely, both for the pupils and for you to observe and engage with them. Think about the different types of areas to include, such as a quiet area, an active area, creative/messy areas, a construction area, an eating area and a book area.
Think about where care routines, eating and sleeping will take place and consider where the main flow of travel will be through the environment. If pathways are well defined, children, including those with developing movement skills, can move easily through the setting.
Consider making areas flexible to accommodate groups of children with varying needs by making use of mobile movable furniture, shaped tables that can be placed in different formations, make use of folding tables or stackable tables and chairs that can be cleared away if required.
Create boundaries to different areas, with shelving, furniture, fabric or different floor surfaces and soft areas using a combination of drapes, cushions and rugs.
Above all the classroom should be clean, tidy and inviting with good use made of posters photographs and interactive displays to create interesting themes around the room.
One of the quickest and most effective ways to transform an early years classroom is to de-junk! Get rid of broken and incomplete resources; reject any resources or furniture if they are unsafe or rarely used. Group resources together and label storage clearly. Use shelf tops and window sills for interesting and attractive displays.
When considering storage and resource areas, you should observe the environment from a child’s height, would the child be able to easily access a drawer or resource cupboard.
Resources should ideally be stored in clearly labelled, brightly coloured drawers and cupboards. The children should be able to readily identify the correct storage for each resource to aid them in retrieving items when they need them, and tidying them away at the end of a lesson.
To teach responsibility provide children with their own basket or drawer to store their own property safely. Ideally each child will have their own coat peg and area to store spare clothes or shoes.
When purchasing early years furniture it’s important to ensure that the size matches the age range of the users. Ambic tables and chairs come in a range of sizes and heights and we have an easy to use guide to identify the correct size required for any particular age range.
Early years classroom furniture also needs to be safe and easily accessible, as well as being robust and resistant to heavy use. Ambic design their furniture with this in mind, and many of our repeat customers cite this as the reason why they prefer to buy from Ambic rather than the standard off the shelf furniture suppliers.
Early Years consultant Julia Manning – Morton writes that “the physical environment in a setting impacts directly on the quality of practice, making environment a critically important component that practitioners need to plan for and review regularly.”
Once your new classroom is set up, introduce the areas to the children. Explore them together to see what you can do and find in different places.
As time goes by, review how the areas are being used, what impact have your changes had on the children? Observe how the children use the space and rearrange cramped or unused areas. If an area is not well used consider why and redevelop it.
Above all have fun and enjoy the transformation!