Preschoolers are active learners! They use the materials and learning opportunities in their environment to explore, solve problems, and learn about the world around them. It’s key to create learning environments that are responsive to children’s differing abilities, interests, and developmental levels. Doing so ensures that children are engaging in the learning experiences offered to them. Also, spaces that are welcoming and sensitive to children’s cultural and linguistic characteristics foster an effective learning environment. Explore the resources on this page to learn key aspects of preschool learning environments.
When creating a responsive learning environment for preschoolers, it’s important to keep their interests and developmental level in mind. In this episode, hear about ways to adjust classrooms and materials to meet the needs of children and follow their classroom curriculum guidelines at the same time.
In this vignette, learn about 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 this vignette to reflect on and identify the most appropriate ways to put the standards into practice in your own program.
Explore effective, research-based environmental modification practices. In this webinar, learn how to make accommodations to support children birth to 5 with suspected or identified disabilities. Hear 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.
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.
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!
In this webinar, learn about nature-based learning. Find out how to use science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) activities outdoors. Explore nature-based storybooks, research, and learning activities teachers can use in their classrooms and outside. Also, discover the Early Childhood Outdoor Project, designed to get more kids playing outside and to increase their curiosity about nature.
Learn about the Head Start Body Start Play Space Assessment. It is designed to assist Head Start and other early childhood educators in assessing the quality of outdoor play spaces for children ages 3 to 5. Use this tool to help identify the strengths and needs of an existing play space. Also, use this tool to set priorities, plan enhancements and improvements, and create and design a new play space.
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 children in your classroom fit more than one developmental level, review the safety tips for each.
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.
15-minute In-service Suites
Use these 15-minute in-service suites as a professional development resource for staff in busy, active early childhood centers and programs. They are organized around one topic or big idea and address effective teaching and assessment practices.
Last Updated: June 16, 2023