Environment consists of what surrounds us. It is a very important component since it influences the way an individual grows and develops. While to adults, environment may not be of much importance; for a developing child it is very important.
According to Kerka (1999), an environment which provides children with learning opportunities is very important since it gives them a chance to investigate and explore the world around them. The importance of the environment to a developing child (one at preschool and also in primary school level) shall be discussed using the Reggio Emilia approach.
The Reggio Emilia approach
The Reggio Emilia approach focuses on the importance of the learning environment to a child and how it affects how the child learns and relates with other people.
The approach indicates that it is always important for children to be able in a way to control how they conduct their education. This would be easier if the environment could offer opportunities through which the developing child could learn through touching and seeing.
The approach tries to promote the intellectual development of the child through a systematic focus on images and symbolic representation. The approach also notes that it is very important for the children as they develop, they be exposed to an environment which allows them to express themselves freely without feeling intimidated.
The approach also indicates that the environment should allow developing children to explore and discover the relationship between them and others as well as the surrounding environment (New, 2000). The curriculum focuses on interactions which move in line with the children interests. The ability of the environment to construct a knowledge base through which children are able to interact with leads to it being referred as the third teacher.
The importance of the learning environment
The importance of the environment in which a child develops in depends on the services that it is able to provide the child with. One of the major importance lies on its ability to give a child a space through which he or she can have a meaning and relate to. In this case, the environment offers various experiences and it is through these experiences that children are able to change the way they relate to each other, experience different life experiences and change their way of thinking towards some issues.
An environment through which a child develops also affects learning and relationships due to the different surrounding which a child is exposed to. For example, if we take an example of preschool, when children are exposed to others at young ages; they are able to learn through playing, photographs, pictures and so on. They interact freely and this gives them a chance of being innovative.
In this case, the environment offers them a comfortable space where they are able to learn from each other. When the same kind of environment is provided in the classroom, the children are able to learn since the environment communicates and engages with them efficiently.
Another importance of environment lies in its ability to provide the aesthetic value to the developing child. Aesthetic value enables children early in their development stages to express their feelings using colors, drawings and design.
It is important to note that the aesthetic value of the environment does not have to be achieved by visiting places like museums rather the materials provided in the classroom can be able to provide this kind of environment. The way the environment is organized helps the child in concentrating on whatever activities they are engaged in. It also motivates the child in doing work in creative ways.
Kerka, S. (1999). Creativity in adulthood. Washington, D.C. Office of Educational Research and Improvement. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED429 186
New, R. S. (2000). Reggio Emilia: Catalyst for Change and Conversation. ERIC Digest. Retrieved from: http://www.ericdigests.org/2001-3/reggio.htm