children playing

The physical environment

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Child Care Exchange
Prescott, Elizabeth
Publication Date: 
1 Nov 1994


Anytime children who have been in a child care center are asked what they remember about it, invariably their memories are about the agony of lying still at nap time, playing in the sand pile, having to eat beans, having one's back rubbed at nap time, or being outside on hot days. It appears as though their memories are stored primarily as tactile sensory impressions.

This phenomenon suggests the importance of paying attention to the physical environment created in a child care program. In this article, five key dimensions of the environment which impact the experiences of children are addressed -softness/hardness, open/closed, simple/complex, intrusion/seclusion and high mobility/low mobility. Then it is demonstrated how to consider these dimensions in solving some typical problems in child care settings.