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Quality Standards for Early Childhood Education Physical Setting and Safety

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Physical Setting and Safety


Success is not a destination; it's a journey. (Anonymous)

Rationale: The environment in quality early childhood programs allows for self-direction; therefore, materials encourage children to construct their own learning. The physical environment allows spaces for various activities, individual and group, and is appropriate for the child's age and size. The physical arrangement in an early childhood environment dictates the type of activities children engage in and the way children and adults are involved.

Young children are highly interested in the world that surrounds them and unaware of most dangers. Early childhood environments must enhance children's natural curiosity while allowing them to interact freely and safely. Consideration must be given to the size and age of all children in the learning environment.

Outcomes: The physical setting is safe and developmentally appropriate for the needs of all children.

Standard 1: The program's indoor and outdoor environments contain equipment, materials, and spatial arrangements that are appropriate for the age and developmental levels of all children.

Indicator 1. The physical space is arranged to encourage interaction among children and adults, allow flexibility in grouping or solitary play, and foster exploration and learning.

Indicator 2. The physical environment offers space for each child to move freely in the classroom or on the playground, fosters positive social and emotional interactions, and provides storage for personal items and projects.

Indicator 3. Modifications in the physical environment and materials are made according to the individual needs of all children.

Indicator 4. Indoor physical environments provide a variety of appropriate surfaces such as pillows, carpet, and tile as well as defined areas for quiet reading, block play, housekeeping, discovery, art, and manipulatives that are developmentally appropriate for the age of the children.

Indicator 5. Outdoor physical environments provide a variety of surfaces that are safe and appropriate for all children such as sand, grass, hills, flat, and hard areas.

Indicator 6. A wide variety of age-appropriate learning materials and equipment are easily adaptable and rotated on a regular basis.

Standard 2: The safety of all children and staff is assured through high-quality environments and education.

Indicator 1. At least one staff member is certified in CPR and first aid, or has equivalent training, and adequate first aid supplies are readily available.

Indicator 2. Appropriate adult-child ratios are maintained to ensure safety and adult supervision at all times.

Indicator 3. The physical environment, including developmentally appropriate playground equipment and material, is maintained to ensure that it is in good repair and free from hazards.

Indicator 4. The physical environment is arranged to provide for good supervision.

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