Creating a caring, supportive environment for your two-year-olds is so important. You want to create a space that is thoughtfully laid out, practical and inviting for your young learners.
The size or shape of the room and the colours you choose, combined with the amount of light, will all influence how children learn and so need to be considered carefully. Two-year-olds are fidgety, inquisitive and always on the move – your layout can influence the way that they behave and interact within your setting. If the space is too bright, busy and cramped, it can overstimulate children and if it is too plain and minimalist then it can appear clinical and uninviting.
Here are some of the basics to consider when planning your space…
Arriving For the Day
When children arrive, they will need enough space to come in with an adult, store their bags and hang their coats. A two-year-old often needs a lot of space to manoeuvre so make sure your area is big enough for parents, practitioners and children. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a separate cloakroom, so you may have to create one using furniture. Remember, children might need to access their coats during the day for outdoor play!
A Place Of Their Own
Children will need to bring in some of their own items, such as spare clothes, nappies, sun cream, etc. They will need a special place of their own to store them. Locating this close the entrance will make it easy for children and adults to access when they arrive. This will also help to create a ‘meet and greet’ space for practitioners, parents and children. Using picture labels can help children to recognise their space and so encourage a level of independence.
Space & Safety
Your 2-year-olds need to be able to move around the space safely and with increasing independence, so free-flow will be essential. Consider dividing your space into different areas to support children at their differing stages, such as those who are not so confident on their feet or those who need quieter areas.
Here are some ideas:
- Use low divider panels to help create different areas whilst allowing for flexibility to change the layout as and when required.
- Use low accessible storage for resources where possible, so children can access them independently. Adding baskets to your units can really encourage curiosity and independence.
- Make sure all areas are visible and that doorways, windows and exit routes are free from obstructions.
To Sit or Not to Sit
Children of this age rarely sit down, never mind sit still so consider whether you need chairs with all of your tables. Think about the times of the day you might want children to sit, such as for snacks, and plan how many chairs you would need for this. Try not to fill your space with too many chairs that you will not use. For tables and chairs, the recommended height for two-year-olds is 400mm and 210mm respectively.
Time to Sleep
Most of your 2-year-olds will still need a nap during the day. For this you will need a quiet area away from the main space where children can be comfortable and quiet. Creating a canopied area or cosy den can also double up as a cosy reading area. For your space, you will also require sleep mats. The Millhouse Slumberstore is a unique naptime solution that combines sleepmats with space-saving storage.
Use different combinations of low height, self-access storage units to create and zone your areas including small world, construction, messy play, role play, home corners and art. You can then quickly and easily move furniture to change the spaces based on the needs of your cohort. The Millhouse range of storage units are all designed to butt together easily with no complicated joining method.
Colour in your environment is important. Different colours can affect our emotions in different ways so think about the best colours to use in your room. Bright colours are exciting and fun, but can be overstimulating for some children, while muted tones can be calmer but if too neutral, your space can feel dull. It is important to experiment to find the right balance of colour for your setting. If you have neutral floors, wall, furniture and display boards – then don’t be afraid to add colour with soft furnishings
Displays are also a great way to add colour. They should be fun, simple and contain children’s work – make sure you put them at child’s height so they can enjoy them!
Room layout is all about getting the balance right. Observe the areas, start of with the basics and then build, add and change as you go.
Enjoy the experience, experiment and have fun!
Thank you to Millhouse for writing this blog.
Take a look at the full range of Millhouse furniture to create your perfect environment.
The Millhouse early years range is made from maple melamine and offers a calming natural look and feel. It’s easy to clean, offers great flexibility, and comes with a 10-year guarantee to provide peace of mind.