Rebecca White, Gioe, Cheri M., Merrill, Thomas A.
Child-care environments play an important role in the healthy growth and development of infant and toddlers. Since infants and toddlers spend a large portion of their day in routines such as saying hello or good-bye, getting dressed, diapering, toileting and mealtime, the child-care environment should reflect these important shared learning times. The environment provided for infants and toddlers should be welcoming and responsive to both children and their families.
A welcoming and responsive environment promotes a sense of security, which, in turn, fosters trust among caregivers, children and families. Infant and toddler environments should reflect caring, belonging, safety and comfort.
These following elements should be evident in infant and toddler environments provided at child-care centers:
There are a variety of points to keep in mind when you visit a child-care program and evaluate it in relation to how it will be for your child. Among those points, infant and toddler environments should avoid overstimulating children. There should be a limited number of toys available for them to play with, and the amount of artwork or number of pictures displayed on the walls also shouldn’t be excessive.
Since infants and toddlers are naturally curious, their environments also should allow for them to move freely about their space. Restraining children prohibits critical motor development and prevents learning. Additionally, the environment provided for infants and toddlers should be easily maintained, and surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected often. Of course, children should have access to a wide variety of books and toys, but there also should be areas where children can get away for quiet time or time alone.
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It was funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.