Child Care Providers – Creating the Nurturing Environment Your Child Needs
The first few years of your child’s life are the most important when it comes to setting the foundations for growth, development and later life. There is an ever-increasing need for child care providers to create an environment which nurtures your child’s needs and offers them a place to learn and mature the skills they will use in the years to come.
Children these days can spend up to 12,000 hours in the setting created by their child care providers. This is why child care providers should create an atmosphere and environment that is physically, mentally, emotionally, and aesthetically nurturing.
The physical environment that child care provides should be stimulating – mentally, physically, and aesthetically.
An environment that nurtures physical development should:
- Be safe, clean, and well organized
- Encourage your child to engage with all five senses during play – touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell
- Have enough floor space and outdoor play areas to encourage physical activities, group play, and imaginative/creative expression
- Develop both fine and gross motor skills through different activities like using a spoon or fork, drawing, cutting with scissors, putting together puzzles, learning to button, zip and tie shoes, jumping, climbing, swinging, crawling, throwing balls, cycling, etc.
- Provide nutritious meals and enough freely available drinking water to fuel their growth and energy
Mentally stimulating environment should:
- Have different areas for different types of play such as a dress-up area, puzzle and book corner, art and creative space, etc.
- Include organized and fun lessons such as music and singing, art, reading, writing, numbers, math, etc.
- Encourage the development of social skills – especially through sharing, working together, and communicating with one another
- Have quiet areas for individual play, rest, and relaxation
Kids learn through their senses, so an aesthetically interesting environment should:
- Make use of a variety of colors, textures, and patterns
- Include activities that stimulate different senses – like a sandpit or water activities, food related projects, show and tell, etc.
- Have an outside area with natural elements such as rocks, trees, and plants to encourage their interaction with the world around them
- Display their work in a way that appeals to kids and parents
- Have furniture and toys appropriate for the age and size of the children – keep things at their eye-level
Apart from being mentally, physically and aesthetically nurturing, child care providers should offer their kids a space that is emotionally nurturing. Children need to feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings in order for them to learn, grow and mature. This feeling is largely to do with the adults who surround them. An emotionally nurturing environment is one where the teacher interacts with the children at a level that they can connect with – soft, kind and caring teachers who offer comfort (either through their words or through their actions and tactile interactions) and who let the children know that they are understood and receive enough attention are ideal. You will know that a child feels happy and nurtured in their environment when they are able to be fully engaged in the activities and have a good relationship with their teacher. This relationship should also be extended to you as a parent.
Many parents feel anxious about leaving their children in the hands of child care providers. However, if you find a day care, such as Providence Children’s Academy, that understands your child’s needs and ensures that every child is provided with an environment that fosters their growth and success, there is no need to worry – your child will be in good hands.