Claire MacDonald
Claire MacDonald

Introducing you to Claire MacDonald. Claire has extensive experience in the Early Education and Care sector from successful lecturer through to award winning Director, Claire comes with a breadth of practical knowledge to share.

I have been curious lately about our internal environments in which our little ones thrive. I wondered what is the formula for promoting success in our services.

Does your environment promote success?

It can be difficult as an Educator, to take not of the room environment. By this I mean the walls the ceiling the doors. This oversight happens for good reason, we become very accustom to the way our environment looks – it’s very easy to neglect. So a fresh angle, fresh eyes.

The environment must be a dynamic living space which continually engages your little ones and conveys the quality of your program to families. How can we achieve this and make change?

Get down to a child’s eye-level and ponder what the room communicates. Does it entice you to enter and explore? Or is the clutter overwhelming and confusing? And what about the families? Step back to the doorway and imagine entering the room through their eyes. Does the décor convey that families and community are appreciated here? Would you send your child to this centre?

The motivation to interact with the environment is intrinsic for both adults and children alike! The quality of the interaction is dependent upon the possibilities for engagement that the environment provides.

By basing the design of our rooms on the developmental needs of the children and accommodating their individual differences we ignite a sense of exploration and curiosity. Plan a developmentally appropriate curriculum based on the needs, interests, and abilities of the children.

Integrate curriculum across traditional domains (music, art, language arts, gross motor and fine motor play)

Make play and learning meaningful through relevant child hands-on activities.

When I worked as a Director, I quickly came to realise that if I poorly designed and arranged the physical setting, this sent subtle messages that often triggered challenging behaviours. By altering the space and taking into account, whether there were overwhelming stimuli on walls, floors, in toys and in colour I was able to eliminate some aggressive behaviours and even subtle behaviours like running throughout the rooms. It became calmer.

I really enjoyed creating little oasis’ of semi-enclosed spaces with room for two at most. Of course, these are easily supervised spaces but to the child/ren it is a space to take a breather. A place of privacy a place for developing self-regulation.

For the environment to take on the role of the “third teacher”, every article present must have a purpose.

I dare YOU to take action to improve your environment—whether it be de-cluttering, rearranging, or finding a new way to display your manipulatives. I would love to hear your thoughts or what is working for you. Let’s chat in the forum about your successes and disappointments to learn from each other.