In order to create an environment that is enabling, it is crucial to understand exactly what that entails, its role and the importance of play on a child’s development. To help your children grow and flourish, the team at Red Monkey Play have put together this handy guide on how environments support play and how to create your own enabling environment that encourages children to explore the world around them safely.
What Is An Enabling Environment?
An enabling environment is a child-centric, age-specific space or setting that contains a variety of rich and stimulating media in which children feel comfortable, confident, safe and free to explore. These areas encourage children to be active, challenge themselves, problem solve, foster a sense of independence and communicate with those they are interacting with.
It is essential that these environments are inclusive embracing children from all cultures, languages, ethnicities, religions, disabilities and special needs. It is also very important to monitor each child’s development and how your space accommodates for their individual needs. This will help to uncover any opportunities that could be incorporated to make the space even better and more engaging.
Successful enabling environments can be broken down into three factors:
The Emotional Environment
The emotional environment refers to the atmosphere of your setting or space. Young children are extremely conscious and aware of how individuals, whether that be children or adults, react with each other, including their behaviour, tone, speech and how everyone within the interaction is treated.
In order for your enabling environment to be received and utilised as well as possible, each child needs to feel safe and settled within the space, and have the support of a key person with whom they have a connection or bond with.
When there is a sense of safety and security within the child or space, it is more likely that each child will try new things, make mistakes and open themselves up to learning.
The Indoor Environment
The indoor environment needs to be a space that stimulates and provides a variety of mediums to accommodate the changing needs and interests of children. These spaces need a little more thought when planning as they need to be both flexible to encompass a number of activities and accessible.
The richer the indoor environment, the more opportunity a child has to learn and interact with their peers and resources available. As children are very receptive to their surroundings, the physical environment in which they learn and play directly affects their behaviour.
The Outdoor Environment
The ability to play outdoors provides a plethora of benefits for a child’s development and learning. These outdoor spaces offer a multi-sensory experience, are much less restrictive and contain a variation of natural and colourful stimuli to engage with, encouraging children to learn through the use of their senses. Play can be explored on a much larger scale from getting their hands dirty with messy soil and sand play, to making a splash with water play, encouraging teamwork through building dens and bridges with logs and sticks. Working together as a team with their peers encourages collaboration, cooperation and even encourages negotiation between children, depending on the situation at hand.
Language and communication skills are often developed through role-playing activities that spark children’s imagination and problem-solving skills. Playing out in the fresh air is not only beneficial for their health but can also contribute to their understanding of how they can affect the world around them.
Enabling Environments In Early Years
Creating enabling environments in the early years is so important because at this age, children are more responsive than ever to their physical surroundings and the people around them.
Being made to feel safe, supported and in a space where their needs are going to be met is a key factor in a child opening themselves up to exploration, making mistakes without the fear of failure, and learning about interactions with their peers, supporting children’s socialisation within play environments.
How Can Red Monkey Play Help You?
At Red Monkey Play, we’re passionate about creating spaces where children are able to express themselves and explore freely. Many pieces of our playground equipment, including our climbing frames and sensory playground equipment, provide children with the perfect opportunity to physically challenge themselves, use their senses and getting their hands mucky.
For more information or advice on how to create your own enabling environment, get in touch with our friendly team of experts.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our London office on 020 38445 525 or our Leicester office on 0116 366 9922 to book a free consultation.