Learning Environments

Resources for Infant/Toddler Learning Environments

Infants and toddlers learn best in environments where they can have secure relationships with caring and responsive adults, and where they feel safe and free to explore and learn. One key way infants and toddlers learn is by exploring their environment. Children will naturally be drawn to explore a space that is inviting. Whether the environment is a home, socialization space, or a child care center, creating a safe, playful, and welcoming learning environment requires a thoughtful process. Use these resources to help you think about play spaces, areas for caregiving routines, and ways to integrate home cultures into children’s environments—all important aspects of an engaging environment for infants and toddlers.

Teacher Time: Creating a Responsive Environment for Young Children, Infant/Toddler Episode

Serving children’s interests and developmental level is key in creating a responsive learning environment for infants and toddlers. In this episode, learn about the importance of creating a classroom that fosters trust and security for infants and toddlers. Discover strategies teachers can use in their classrooms.

Promoting Learning Through Approaches to Rest, Meals, Routines, and Physical Activity

In this Standards in Action vignette, take a look at the Head Start Program Performance Standards on promoting learning through approaches to rest, meals, routines, and physical activity. It features a fictional grantee and highlights how program leaders work with others to meet the standards. Use the vignette to reflect on and identify the most appropriate ways to put the standards into practice in your own program.

Continuity of Care

When children are with the same teachers over time, they get the attention and affection they need to have meaningful relationships. In these close bonds, children thrive and learn about themselves. Use this tip sheet to explore how continuity of care is key to the healthy development of young children birth to 3. Learn about three types of continuity of care systems.

Environments That Support High Quality Inclusion Webinar

In this webinar, explore effective, research-based environmental modification practices. Find out how to make accommodations to support children birth to 5 with suspected or identified disabilities. Learn about specific strategies for inclusive services, including changing classroom routines and environments to support individualization. Discover free resources to support staff in adjusting the environment to meet the needs of all children.

Early Essentials Webisode 7: Environments

Find out how environments impact adults and children. In this webisode, hear from Louis Torelli and other experts as they consider environments in your work with infants, young children, and families.

Caring Connections: Let's Talk About Environments

The way your physical environment is set up sends powerful messages to the infants and toddlers in your care. What messages does your physical environment convey to young children? Are they positive messages of security, trust, comfort, and belonging? Does the space offer children the freedom to move and explore? Listen to this podcast to explore the concept of environmental messages. Find out how the physical environment impacts relationships between children and adults. There are also strategies and suggestions for creating and sustaining environments that convey positive messages.

Supporting Outdoor Play and Exploration for Infants and Toddlers

In this technical assistance paper, learn more about the benefits of outdoor time for infants and toddlers. Find ways to create outdoor play spaces. Explore safety considerations, strategies, and policies that support this important part of quality infant-toddler programming.

Spending Time Outdoors Matters for Infants and Toddlers!

Listen to this podcast to learn about some of the benefits that infants and toddlers gain by spending quality time outside. Discover ways Early Head Start staff and parents can make the most of outdoor time.

Nature-Based Learning and Development

Nature play is important for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, families, staff, and communities. Learn how children who regularly play in nature are growing up healthy, smart, and happy.

Outdoor Play Benefits

Children are spending less and less time playing outdoors. Research has shown that children who play outdoors regularly are happier, healthier, and stronger. Learn about some of the health benefits and get ideas for fun outdoor activities.

Infant and Toddler Outdoor Play Space Assessment

Learn about the Infant and Toddler Outdoor Play Space Assessment. It is designed to assist Head Start staff and early childhood educators in assessing the quality of outdoor play spaces for young children. Use this tool to help identify the strengths and needs of an existing play space and as a basis for setting priorities and planning enhancements and improvements. Head Start directors, managers, and other educators may also use this tool to help plan and design a new play space.

Tips for Keeping Children Safe: A Developmental Guide

Explore this tool to find safety tips for early childhood staff working with young children in classroom environments. In each section, find development and safety tips organized by daily routines. Some tips apply to all children. Others address the developmental needs of children in a specific age group. If the children in your classroom fit more than one developmental level, review the safety tips for each.

Keep Children Safe Using Active Supervision

Children learn best when they are in safe, well-supervised environments. Head Start staff can reduce the possibility of a child getting hurt when they closely observe children and respond when needed. Use these resources to help programs think systematically about child supervision. Find ways to create safe, positive learning environments for all children. Using active supervision means that programs develop a systems approach for child supervision, provide staff development and resources to ensure program-wide implementation, and use redundant strategies to ensure no child is left unattended.


News You Can Use

teacher demonstrates plant to boyExplore this e-newsletter to find topics important to staff who work directly with infants, toddlers, and families, including expectant families (e.g., home visitors, teachers, family child care providers). In each edition, find information on one particular topic. Review the vignettes to see how the information can be used in daily practice.

Topic:Learning Environments

Resource Type: Article

Age Group: Infants and Toddlers

Last Updated: December 16, 2019