An environment that values beauty makes a clear statement. It tells our children and our families that we care. “We care enough about you to offer you a beautiful environment.”
When we consider the formative years of a child's life is all about sensory download, then we need to provide environments that saturate the senses with beauty as well.
A well prepared environment is characterised by order, simplicity and beauty which meet the needs of the child. We use beauty to guide us how we set up our environment. 'How' we create our environments, 'how' we set the tables, 'how' we set the environment, it is one of the most important tasks of the adult.
If we put emphasis on the unseen, invisible but totally feel-able environment, we are sending out positive energy into the world.
When we design our spaces with beauty in mind and a joy for creating a homely environment, it has a totally different energy and feel than when we design an environment that is single-mindedly focused on making 'education' visible.
How many things do we have in our ece environments for the sake of looking like we are 'doing' the right educational thing? Why are we spending so much money from catalogues with ‘active toys’, when the back shelf of the linen cupboard at home is a treasure trove of ‘equipment’. Loose objects like blankets, sheets, crockery, boxes are treasures to the children. When observing children, we see the fundamental truth that the more simple the object, the more complex the play. Up cycle those sheets, grab some pegs and old cushions and children will be in 'hut heaven'.
It’s a sign of respect to prepare a beautiful environment for the children.
Children soak in everything in their environment. We want them to be soaking in beauty and order, homeliness and full attention. When children are in a beautiful environment they come to appreciate beauty. They notice the small details. They observe, they comment, they produce their own acts of beauty. Without knowing it, this appreciation of beauty becomes part of them. Real tools, beautiful ornaments, china ware, glass crockery, and real art, its the kind of attention to detail what makes a place a place of the heart, not a place of “oh it will do”.
Often we are driven to fill our environments with 'visible literacy' that reflects our 'educational focus' that we overlook the power of beauty and how beauty impacts our senses. Yes children do need to learn what words look like, sentence formation but there are so many places this can happen in a meaningful context. Words are more than their written form just as art is more than 'painting a picture'. As in all things, it is that which touches us in some way with its beauty or meaning that attracts our attention, why would it not be the same for our children?
Beauty and order is not a choice it is a child given right.
Take a sensory stocktake of your place/space. Ask yourselves a few questions, that really get to the heart of the matter. Is it beautiful? Is it something that the children can use for infinite ways in their play? Is this a space where the child's own imagination gets to put life to the passive things? Our role is to modify, adapt and manipulate the environment to mirror the biological imperatives of the child. In other words our places need to be a direct reflection of what the child’s biology needs!
“Surrounded in beauty the soul grows!” - Liane Sanderson
Beauty is found in simplicity. Beauty is found in natural materials. Beauty is found in careful attention to detail. The little things often make all the difference. Beautiful but simple, 'carefully' and thoughtfully created environments are a must for our children to spend their days away from home in. It not only feeds the child’s soul, it also feeds the adult’s soul. An environment that shows it has been prepared by thoughtful adults with their head, hand and heart is not only inviting, it also conveys a message of ‘you are welcome, we value and respect you’. In these spaces we can feel a whole different energy within us. And as we prepare our environments and consciously make beauty the norm our souls too are nurtured.