Can we confidently say that we are somewhat by products of our environment? Sure, there are other factors that come into play when we talk about our upbringing, whether it be our parents or access to resources, but our environment has a huge impact on our lives. You could argue that people are born the way they are supposed to be, but the learning environment of a child has a tremendous impact on their development. I think the fault in modern early childhood education is that we’ve been too focused on what children are learning that we’ve forgotten about the how, where, and why.
I recently took a class on how to create hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), a Danish term that means to create a sense of coziness or to make a space comfortable. What is the typical first impression that you get when you walk into your average childcare center? Bright colors, lots of toys, loud, busy. All of these typical characteristics have an impact on the early development of a child. In a world where they are getting to know their environment, sometimes it can just be too much. Sensory overload. When I decided that I wanted to open my own childcare center, one of the first things that came to my mind was making it feel like home. Let’s place our children in an environment that they are familiar with – one that they can be comfortable in.
When I first opened the doors to my center, I knew that I wanted to make a change – a change that I could pass on to others in the industry. So, I tore down walls, painted over bright colors, brought in lamps, rugs, and oh so many plants. I was channeling full-on hygge. When a child walks through my doors, I want them to feel at home.
Environment has an impact. It’s the same thing as listening to Mozart while studying for a test, or taking a walk outside when you’ve been staring at a computer screen for too long. Children are constantly mimicking their surroundings and it’s our responsibility as parents, teachers, and childcare professionals to provide a safe and comfortable environment. When children are positively impacted by their environment, then their curiosity and wonder can thrive.
They were right when they said “there’s no place like home,” but who says home had to be one place.
Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash