Young learners, like adults also need to have a conducive environment for them to participate effectively in the learning process. Therefore, having an effective learning process is one of the most critical aspects of early childhood education. A good learning environment affects how the children will comprehend the content of their lessons and how they will participate and contribute effectively in class. It should be noted that the young learners are at a very critical stage in their development, a factor which must considered when creating an enabling environment for them. For example, a good learning environment for the young children is one that facilitate a holistic development for them in terms of attending for their physical, cognitive, and emotional growth. Besides, the learning environment needs to be in tandem with the curriculum for the early childhood learners in order to enable them to get the best out of their education.
At this point in their development, children, especially those in elementary schools or kindergarten, always want to do everything on their own. They grow physiologically as well as psychological. Psychological development among the elementary school students refers to the changed they go through in terms of shaping their identity, self-esteem, self-concept, morality and emotional competence. In as much as there are these internal changes, the young learners also undergo changes in terms of building their relationships with other people around them, including their peers, parents, and other adults (Fisher, 2008). Nevertheless, emotional development is the pinnacle of the changes taking place in high school students. It affects self-regulation concept, which is a complex set of developmental processes which allows the children as they grow to control their emotions from time to time.
Consequently, the school environment creates room for a wide range of mental issues affecting the children and their development. Some of the most significant contemporary mental health issues affecting high school students in the school include depression, anxiety, mood disorders, stress, and low self-esteem. Anxiety is most likely to occur in instances of uncertain futures concerning academic performance in a school (Bradford, 2012). On the other hand, academic stress and depression are likely to emanate from the tasks or the nature of the academic task itself. For instance, the students may be required to school efficiently without adequate resources and long studying hours among other factors.
An effective learning environment must also be based on the right pedagogy durin class lessons. Pedagogical practices for various age groups need to be varied in such a way that they take care of the educational needs of the various students, importantly, focusing on the age differences (Bradford, 2012). Therefore, instructive practices for infants should be different from those of adults. For this reason, the pedagogical practices that are observed in the early year setting (EYFS) should range from the didactic interactions that are more typically associated with the learning process. This is through modeling, scaffolding skill acquisition, questioning, prompting exploration, as well as nurturing a childs disposition to learn (Beckly, 2013). Policy makers, as well as managers of early years provision practitioners are currently comfortable in considering their practice about the written curriculum (McDowall Clark, 2010). However, asking about pedagogy disturbs some of these practitioners as they find it difficult to express how they act in their quest to support learning.
However, those designing the curriculum should not just design it without considering the students needs. Milkie & Warner, (2011) argued that just as much as children should engage in metacognitive processes, the practitioners should also include these paradigms in setting out the curriculum. They also warned that their inability to express and articulate their practices can be a huge constraint in the process of providing effective instructional practices. For this reason, it is important to come up with a working pedagogical practice that should be included in the curriculum for those aged five and below.
Equality and diversity will be vital concepts in the learning environment, as should go beyond cultural differences, and thereby, will not discriminate based on disability, faith, gender, and class. The intent for this is to ensure that the children are trained to be good critical thinkers even from a young age. Therefore, it will uphold equality, positive regard, dignity, and respect to all children. Also, active learning will be important in the curriculum, to enable them to become good critical thinkers and adapt favorably to the environment, and therefore, ensure that the accommodation and assimilation of the child should be a continual process that advocates for cognitive self-correction, and thereby realizing a point of equilibrium (Milkie & Warner, 2011). Following this assertion, various aspects will be used such as capturing security, mastery, play, pleasure, well-being, as well as repeating the activities to ensure that the children fully comprehend.
Also, the learning environment must be composed of adult guidance, through building strong relationships based on trust and the value of making them better every day. It will have reinforcement of a favorable learning environment, which will motivates the learning and development of children. Ideally, this will be outdoor and indoor learning environments, which will allow the children to explore and utilize all the possibilities that are offered for fun, challenge, creativity, and adventure. Also, the curriculum will allow for interaction with other kids, which is important as it further sharpens the language and communication skills, thereby enabling them to learn better (Beckly, 2013). In essence, infants in their early years do not think in isolation, rather, thinking is an everyday process determined culturally, and therefore, interactions will make them comprehend cultural standpoints, therefore, creating a sense of understanding of each other, thereby increasing the level of interaction.
Early childhood learning and development should be backed by socio-cultural learning and development. According to Maynard and Powell, (2014), individualistic development should be founded from cultural and social learning approaches. Ideally, other researchers have demonstrated the importance of social and cultural process including Bruner (1996). From this perspective, it is clear that the processes of early learning and development are indivisibly intertwined and are embedded within the precincts of social relationships (Beckly, 2013). Also, Bronfenbrenners Ecological Systems Theory of 1989 has provided framework that stipulates that individual development for children should not be in isolation, rater, via the family, neighborhood, society, as well as the community in which the child is brought up.
In conclusion, the most effect learning environment is that which contributes effectively to the holistic growth of the learners. The learning environment must also be responsive to the needs of the learners. The teachers or any other adults around the children must be well trained in guiding the children to achieve the desired goals of from their learning process. The teachers or instructors must use the right pedagogical practices to ensure that the learners get the best from the learning process.
Beckly, P. (2013). Early Years Foundation Stage challenges and reflections. Maidenhead. Open University Press/McGraw Hill.
Bradford, H. (2012). The Wellbeing of Children Under Three. Abingdon. Routledge.
Fisher, J.A. (2008) Starting from the child: teaching and learning in the foundation stage (3rd edn) Maidenhead: Open University Press. Chapter 5: Encouraging independence, chapter 8: The negotiated learning environment.
Maynard,T. and Powell, S. (2014). An Introduction to Early Childhood Studies. London. SAGE.
McDowall Clark, R. (2010). Childhood in Society. London. SAGE.Milkie, M.A. & Warner, C.H. (2011) Classroom Learning Environments and the Mental Health of First Grade Children Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 52, (1) pp. 422.
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