At this recent Talk-about, educators reflected on
· What makes an inclusive environment?
· What does an inclusive environment look, smell and sound like?
· How capable are infants?
Throughout the conversation, the group discussed the concept of infants being very capable people.
Many ideas where shared, with educators sharing some barriers that they face within their services. They discussed strategies and helped each other build capacity.
The group discussed the important role of the environment for the children and for educators, and that everything occurring in a service is a learning opportunity. Discussion highlighted that children transfer learning in one context to different aspects of their life. Educators discussed developing positive self-concept in children by building dispositions for learning such as confidence and adaptability. Educators agreed that infants learn a lot in a short time and that the best learning occurs through hands-on experiences, play and exploration, meaningful conversations and through the language that educators intentionally use.
Over the course of an hour, educators engaged in conversations about different resources for infants and the benefits of each within an early childhood program. They discussed what the term “open-ended resources” means, giving examples of these.
Tracey (IP) shared an example of using natural resources with infants, allowing the opportunity to play with rocks, sticks and mud incorporated with plastic animals and toy cars. Educators discussed how to discuss the benefits of such play with families, particularly those who are a little protective of their infants. Educators reflected on how important it is to develop, respect and maintain relationships with families.
Educators talked about the importance of having confidence in the infant’s abilities and understandings, by allowing infants to use small manipulative objects in many different ways.
Caraline (IP) discussed the importance of introducing self-help skills and the value of visual aids. With encouragement and visual prompts, for example, infants can wash their own face and hands, get their own drink bottles, or hand cups out to their friends. Educators discussed the use of photos to guide children to seats for mealtime and to their beds.
The group reflected on the importance of using routines such as cleaning tables, floors, and nappy changes as fun learning opportunities. These are daily occurrences, so we need to utilise them as a benefit for everyone.
The readings and webpages below may help you reflect on whether your environment is inclusive.
- A good place to be a child, creating effective learning environments ($38.50)
- Supporting children’s imaginative play (pitfalls and possibilities) ($25)
- The inclusive service (meaningful participation in ECEC) ($35)
Power point – learning environments (free)
Modules – Environments for learning – indoor learning spaces ($38.50)
Other resources – baby and toddler – amazing learners (free)
Other readings from the web:
Safe and supportive environments:
Create the perfect play spaces learning environment for young children:
Creating a childcare environment for success: