Archive for November, 2008

curriculumFollow the Calendar

When planning a preschool curriculum, most instructors like to use the calendar year and its occurrences as their basic structural component. This keeps the curriculum relevant and current which helps to further reinforce the lessons in the children’s young minds, since it wouldn’t really make much sense to learn about Halloween at Easter or vice versa.

Generally speaking, one theme or unit should last for one week or two at the most. At this young age, children respond well to repetition, which is why many instructors follow a basic template for each week with activities specific to each day of the week. As children master this system, they’ll learn how to anticipate the activities of each day, which will help to strengthen their sense of logical reasoning and deduction.

September through June

In September, many educators like to start off with the “All about Me” section, which will allows the children to not only explore themselves and their own personalities, but also a chance to meet and learn about their peers. This is also an excellent time in the curriculum to introduce a unit on family or pets.

The most celebrated holiday in the month of October is also a favorite of many children: Halloween. This is a great time to introduce units on the season of fall, nature, and healthy eating since children will be receiving large amounts of candy.

Next comes November which coincides with Thanksgiving, where children can learn a little more about the history of America and explore the good things in their lives that they have to give thanks for.

December is the beginning of winter for some, and it is also the beginning of a busy holiday season that includes Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. This is a great opportunity to incorporate a theme of multiculturalism into the preschool curriculum.

With the beginning of a New Year, the focus of the curriculum can be on change and New Year’s resolutions. Also, the theme of winter can continue to be explored through sports, the weather, and snow. An apt theme for the month of February is love, seeing as Valentine’s Day falls right in the middle of the month.

As the season change, a unit on spring can be introduced, with focus on plants and flowers. Finally, as the year draws to a close, the focus is on the season of summer, which can include a unit on plans for the summer time such as going to the beach or taking a vacation.

But what about March or May?

When there’s a lull in the calendar, it gives instructors an opportunity to be a little more creative with theirpreschool curriculum. Remember, the sky is pretty much the limit with their young minds, and the emphasis should always be on fun and play first before traditional learning. Some instructors like to take suggestions from the children on what themes they’d like to explore, which helps children feel more a part of the process.


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Integrated Curriculum for Three to Five Year Olds

When the temperature drops and snowflakes fly, it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of preschoolers’ natural interest in winter weather by weaving ice and snow themes into the lesson plans. These ideas incorporate science, literature, and social studies content standards.

Children Explore Ice and Snow Indoors and Out

ice and snow

Small groups of children can fill containers part way with water, marking the water level on the side, then place the water outside in freezing temperatures. Later, they can check the containers and discover what has happened. Discussion follows the observation that the ice reaches ab

ove the water level they marked. When the containers are brought inside, and the water melts, additional discussion follows. Bringing snow inside, measuring the quantity by volume and by weight, then allowing it to melt and measuring the resulting water will yield more questions and comments. Teachers can record the experiments with photographs, along with writing down children’s questions and observations. These activities engage children in doing scientific enquiry, exploring the nature of science through conversation, and examining the nature of matter.

Use Books with Ice and Snow Themes for Language Lessons

Wonderful children’ books with ice and snow themes are available. Ice Cream Bear, by Jez Alborough, (Candlewick Press, 1996), The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, by Shirley Netzel, (HarperTrophy, 1994), Snow, by P.D. Eastman, (Random House, 1962), and The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats, (Puffin, 1976) are excellent choices. Each of these books features engaging illustrations and topics presented in ways that keep the attention of young children. Snow is appropriate for use with beginning readers, as is the repetitive, rhyming vocabulary of The Jacket I Wear in the Snow. For very young preschoolers, Jan Brett’s beautifully illustrated story, The Mitten, (Putnam Juvenile, 1996), is also available in a board book version.

Preschool Social Studies for Winter Weather

Young children are developing the ability to imagine the lives of other people in other places. Help enlarge their concept of the world by introducing the concept of differing climates in different parts of the world. Using a globe or world map, teachers show the children where their school is located. Then, they help children locate cities in the opposite hemisphere, near the earth’s poles, or near the equator. Of course, teachers will choose different places depending upon the part of the world they are in. Using the classroom computer, teachers can show children how to find out what the current temperature is in the selected cities. If no computer is available in the classroom, children can be assigned cities to research with their families’ help, or teachers can do the research and bring the information to class the next day. The temperature differences can be illustrated by placing pieces of tape or sticky notes marked with the current temperatures on the globe or a world map. Teachers can lead discussion about what the class thinks children might be doing in these other places. A fun song to use with this lesson is “Christmas Where the Gum Trees Grow,” recorded by Greg Doolan, Susan McRae, and Ross Bogart , The Australian Christmas Album, (MRA Entertainment / IODA, 2007).

Ice and Snow Themes Invite Preschoolers to Explore, Discuss, and Observe

The natural environment stimulates children’s interest in the nature of matter and the ways in which people relate to changes in the environment. Teachers can encourage children to develop this interest into learning about science, language, and social studies.


The copyright of the article Preschool Lesson Ideas for Ice and Snow in Preschool is owned by Brenda Layman. Permission to republish Preschool Lesson Ideas for Ice and Snow in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

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Nowadays kids are wanting more and more out of their college experience. Gone are the days when students cast their gaze within domestic boundaries while making plans for college. An increasing number of college students are factoring a semester abroad into their college agenda, and are venturing into further, more exotic lands than are usually trekked upon in the traditional European study abroad program, according to a recent article. Schools are expanding their abroad programs in order to meet their student bodies’ globetrotting desires. The Times article also says that a growing number of students are migrating to the Far East for abroad programs in China.

In the 2006-2007 academic year 11,064 students voyaged to China for their study abroad programs, while only 1,396 students made a similar journey abroad eleven years earlier in the 1995–1996 school year. In the 2006-2007 calendar year, 241,791 college students dispersed amongst various abroad sights throughout the world “with sharp increases in the numbers going to Argentina, South Africa, Ecuador and India, and declining numbers going to Australia and Costa Rica.”

Before going to the university, British students are encouraged to take a gap year out of school for travel and charity work, but America is too busy trying to shove everyone along through school so they can go out in the business world and succeed. America’s an ever prideful country whose arrogant notions and lack of deeply-embedded culture have traditionally led us to overlook the significance of such “sissy” endeavors. Why on God’s green earth wouldya ever go abroad when we got Budweiser, Stetson, and real football here in America?

The shift from twelve years at the same school in Oklahoma to NYU is plenty abroad for me, but especially for kids studying abroad can be a once in a lifetime opportunity and truly enlightening experience for a lot of students, especially ones which have never really left the States.

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designThere is a considerable amount of research documenting the effects of noise on children. The effects are largely negative. In this presentation I will briefly describe the findings of research in this field, discuss current research by Maxwell and Evans, and finally outline design issues related to noise and child care centers.

Nonauditory effects of noise (see Evans & Lepore, 1993 for a more detailed description)

Much of the research on noise and children concerns damage to the auditory system. While the possibility of hearing damage is, and should be, of concern to parents and educators, the nonauditory effects of noise on children also deserves attention. The literature on the latter topic falls into three categories; physiological effects, motivational effects, and cognitive effects.

Physiological effects Elevated blood pressure levels in school-aged children is associated with living or going to school near a major noise source (e.g., airport, traffic, trains). Although the blood pressure levels of children exposed to these major noise sources are within the normal range, they are higher than for children not exposed to major noise sources. These elevated blood pressure levels are of concern for two reasons. One, the levels do not habituate with continued exposure, and two, elevated pressure levels in children appear to continue this pattern into adulthood thereby increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease. The decibel levels in these studies ranged from 95 to 125 dBA peak. In each case the noise exposure was chronic.

Motivational effects Research findings suggest that exposure to uncontrollable noise may make children more vulnerable to learned helplessness. Learned helplessness means that the individual learns that the outcomes of it’s behavior are independent of the actions of the individual. Most of this research has been with school-aged children, including kindergartners. One study found that children attending a school near a major airport were less likely to solve a challenging puzzle and to persist at it as well. Another study found that children exposed to noise were more likely to abdicate their choice for a reward to their teachers. The children decided to let the adult pick a prize for them rather than exercise their option to do so. Teachers in noisy schools also report greater difficulty in motivating children in their school work. Children often had less tolerance for frustration.

Limited work has been done with younger children. One study in a residential setting found that 12 month-old infants in noisy homes exhibited less mastery-oriented play behavior with their toys than their counterparts in quieter homes. The peak noise readings in the studies described above was 95 dBA.

Cognitive effects Most of the research on the nonauditory effects of noise on children has been on cognitive effects. The research has looked at memory, attention/perception, and academic achievement.

The research on memory and noise for children parallels that of adults; there appears to be little or no effects of noise on simple memory. This holds true for both chronic and acute exposure to noise. However, if the memory task requires special attention there does appear to be some negative effects of noise. In other words, if the individual has to pay particular attention because of the difficulty of the task, noise may interfere with the memory task. Noise levels in these studies were in the range of 22 – 78dBA.

The research on attention suggests that children exposed to chronic noise may suffer deficits in this area. Children exposed to chronic noise seem to develop cognitive strategies for coping with the distracting effect of noise. Young children (5 years old) from noisy residential environments seem to be better able to tune out distracting auditory stimuli when asked to perform a discrimination task in a noisy environment than children from quieter homes. Four year old children from noisy day care centers performed better under noisy conditions than children from quiet day care centers. These young children seem to be resistant to the distracting effects of noise because they tune out the noise. However, additional research suggests that as children get older (school-aged) this advantage disappears. In these studies older children from quieter environments were better at discrimination tasks done under noisy conditions. These children were able to screen out the noise and concentrate on important cues. Children from noisy environments learned to tune out auditory stimuli but in a nondiscriminatory way and tuned out important cues.

Noise seems to interfere with children’s ability to discriminate between meaningful auditory stimuli, especially speech. Background noise, in particular irrelevant speech, interferes with children understanding the spoken word. This may have particular implications for children’s academic performance.

Several studies have documented a link between noise and academic achievement, in particular reading. Acute noise appears to have little long term effects on reading or other intellectual activities; however, the research indicates that chronic noise has a negative effect on children’s reading skills. There is also evidence to suggest that children from noisy homes and in noisy schools are at more of a disadvantage than children from quieter homes. Children with learning disabilities may also be more susceptible to the negative effects of chronic noise exposure.

A recent study by Evans & Maxwell (1997) identified a link between chronic noise exposure and reading. The noise source was a nearby airport; planes flew over the school on an average of every 6 minutes resulting in classroom decibel levels of 90. In this study children in the noisy school had poorer reading skills than children from the quiet school. The noisy school children also were not good at distinguishing speech masked by white noise but were able to distinguish specific sounds (e.g., cat meowing, baby crying). This finding suggests that there is selective screening out of auditory stimuli by children in chronic noise settings. Another possibility is that speech is used differently in noisy settings than in quiet settings and children miss learning certain language skills. Nevertheless language skills related to speech seem also to be related to reading skills. It is worth noting that the attentional research also found that noise interfered with children’s discrimination of speech. All children were tested in quiet conditions in this study thereby confirming that chronic noise, and not acute noise, is related to academic achievement.

Current study (Maxwell & Evans)
The finding that certain language skills are related to reading skills and that noise is related to both led us to look at when these skills are being acquired. The current study looked at 4 year old children attending a day care center. In this study the noise source was the classroom itself due to the design of the center and classrooms. Ceiling were very high and no sound absorbent materials were used. Some classroom walls were not floor to ceiling thereby allowing noise from adjacent spaces to drift in. Teachers and administrators had identified the noise as excessive and had made arrangements to reduce the noise. Children were tested in as quiet conditions as possible before and after the noise abatement (sound absorbent panels installed in the ceiling). Several measures of pre-reading language skills were used. Teachers also rated children on their language skills.

Peak: 96.8 – 99.1 dBA
The before and after decibel levels in the classrooms were:
Average: 69.4 – 73.9 dBA

Peak: 87.2 – 95.2 dBA
Average: 75.8 – 77.1 dBA
In the quieter condition (note that decibel levels are still high – EPA recommends no higher than an average of 70 dBA) children were rated by their classroom teacher as having better language skills (e.g., child speaks well enough to be understood by others, child uses sentences, not just words) and the children performed better on a cognitive language skills measure.

The researchers were also interested in motivation since there was anecdotal evidence from the teachers that noise was affecting children’s desire to participate in activities (other research supported this observation by these teachers). Children were given two puzzles, one could not be solved (given first) and the other was solvable. Children in the quiet condition took significantly less time to complete the solvable puzzle. Perhaps children in the quieter classrooms had better attentional skills enabling them to solve the puzzle quicker.

Implications for child care center design
Preschool classrooms (children ages 3-5) in four other child care centers were visited (2 in New York City, 2 in Ithaca, NY) to compare the noise levels and classroom design to that of the center in the study described above. In the classrooms with some soft surfaces (carpeting, pillows, curtains) noise levels were lower (average 65 -71 dBA). In classrooms with all hard surfaces and concrete columns dividing spaces the average noise level was 78 dBA with a peak of 90 dBA. Classrooms without buffers between them also generated more noise. A buffer could be a corridor or a wall. Adjacencies are also important. If common multipurpose spaces are located adjacent to classrooms, particular attention should be paid to acoustical design.

Ceiling heights are critical as well. In the center where the study was conducted ceiling heights were in some areas over 14 feet. While these heights created interesting looking spaces, they were problematic in terms of noise levels..

Chronic exposure to noise has been shown to be harmful to children of various ages. It can have especially detrimental effects on younger children when language and discrimination skills are forming. Sometimes major noise sources are not in the control of teachers or designers. However, as this study documents, sometimes the noise source is the design of the spaces. Designers should keep in mind the use of the spaces they are creating. In child care centers, spaces must allow for the fact that children need to make noise but the subsequent noise levels should not be harmful to them or others in the center.

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classroomWalk into your child’s preschool classroom and you will find a large, colorful room divided into carefully planned interest areas. It will be filled with bright, primary colors and a variety of materials for your child to manipulate, explore, snuggle, play with, and share. The room is especially designed to encourage your child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn about her world.

The organization of their preschool classroom sends important signals to children about “what there is to do and how to do it,” says Marilou Hyson, associate executive director for professional development at the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Research indicates that a well-organized classroom helps children learn and motivates them to interact positively with each other.

Preschool classrooms are usually organized around interest areas or learning centers. These defined areas allow children to play and explore materials with the guidance of the teacher either individually or in small groups. Low dividers often separate the centers, but children move freely among them. Skills that lead to reading and writing and math are not confined to specific centers, but rather reinforced in different ways throughout the centers via communication, exploration and play. Your child’s classrooms will have many of the following learning centers, but the arrangement and composition of the centers will vary.

Literacy: Here, children explore the world of books and feel safe and secure as they are introduced to reading. Brightly illustrated children’s books are displayed on low shelves. In front of them, children are curled up on a rug with the books they have selected. They lounge against large, comfortable, multi-colored cushions as a teacher helps them sound out words. Children with headsets listen to tapes of stories, following the pictures in their books. Others gesture intently as a teacher reads a favorite story. Sometimes there are chairs and small tables with paper and crayons and markers for children to practice drawing and writing.

Dramatic play or housekeeping: Children experiment with different roles as they explore the familiar and the unknown through pretend play. This area is filled with props and dress-up clothes to encourage imagination. One day it might be a kitchen with a play stove, sink and dishes; the next day it might be a post office, restaurant, or airplane. Children learn to work with other children, to share and to make compromises (who gets to be the mother? The father? The baby?). They also practice verbal skills and develop an understanding of symbolic representation that leads to the development of reading and writing skills.

Manipulative play: One child is carefully stringing beads into colorful patterns, a second is building a complex structure out of Legos, and a third is bent over a puzzle, deep in concentration. In this area, shelves are filled with puzzles, pegboards, beads, and other small construction toys. Children develop fine motor skills by using their fingers and hands in creative ways. They learn hand/eye coordination and practice problem-solving skills.

Blocks: Two children are working together to build “the highest tower in the whole world.” A girl is constructing a bridge and a boy is loading little people into cars for a journey over the girl’s bridge and down the road he has just completed. Wooden blocks of different sizes and shapes are arranged on shelves along with small cars and an assortment of “little people” to encourage children to build replicas of their world, or creations of their imaginations as they practice symbolic representation. They are developing an understanding of the relationships between size and shape, and the basic math concepts of geometry and numbers.

Art: Here are the raw materials for creativity — colored paper, crayons, markers, tape, paste, safe scissors — set out on shelves and tables. One child is tracing the outlines of leaves; another is cutting out shapes and pasting them in patterns on colored paper. A third is painting at an easel, and a fourth is making a hippopotamus out of play-dough. Art projects may be done either independently or simultaneously as a class activity. Children are developing small muscle control and hand/eye coordination, as well as creativity.

Large motor: Children crawl through tunnels, climb and balance, hop and jump, and bounce and dribble balls, developing coordination, balance, and large muscle control. Some classrooms have an area designed especially to encourage the use and development of large muscles. Other preschools will have a separate room with tunnels, balls, and climbing equipment.

Rug: This is where the entire class gathers to listen as the teacher reads a story or explains an upcoming project. Children often begin and end the day on the rug area.

Sensory: One child is experimenting at the water table to find out what floats and what sinks. Another is pouring sand through a funnel into containers of different sizes. Water and sand tables equipped with boats, cups, funnels, and sieves encourage children to explore mediums like water and sand, to understand the physical world, and to develop concepts underlying math and physics.

Science: Plants, classroom pets, and aquariums are found here. One child may plant a seed in a pot, carefully patting down the soil, while another measures the temperature in the aquarium, a third feeds the guinea pig, and a fourth examines a seashell. The teacher puts out interesting objects from nature, such as leaves, rocks, and seashells, for children to examine with a magnifying class, plus paper and markers to draw them.

Computer: Several children are clustered around a computer checking the charts and picture next to it. Some classrooms will have a table against a wall with one or more computers with chairs grouped around them to encourage children to work together. They will stock basic early-learner software such as phonics or counting games.

Outdoor playground: Outside, there will also usually be a safe, enclosed area with structures for climbing and balancing, and balls of different sizes to encourage large muscle control and coordination.

How to Help at Home:

  1. Be familiar with the way your child’s classroom is organized. Talk about the various learning areas with your child and ask about the things he likes to do in each one.
  2. An organized home can help your child understand and comply with the organization in his classroom. Talk with her about the way your house is organized: where everything in the kitchen belongs, for example. Encourage him to help put everything away in its proper place.
  3. Help your child to organize his room so that each possession has a special place. Schedule supervised clean-up times every day.

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preschool_classroomLearning Centers

La Petite Academy’s Preschool classroom features seven Learning Centers that are equipped with inviting, age-appropriate learning materials, manipulatives and theme-oriented activities that encourage learning and independence.

Creativity and Art Center – including painting supplies, pencils, crayons, markers, easels; recyclables such as wallpaper samples, fabric pieces and collage materials; glue and scissors; various paper supplies and magazines (that have been reviewed).

Math and Manipulatives Center – including a small calendar, weather and number charts; magnetic numbers, puzzles, games and flash cards; safe manipulatives for sorting (large buttons, stamps, stickers, etc.); paper, pencils, notebooks, index cards; measuring cups and spoons, cookie cutters in varying shapes and other materials used to weigh and measure.

Science and Sensorial Center – including sand and/or water table; Wonder Bottles (recycled water bottles with water and oil mixed together with small shells, rocks, sand, food coloring, etc.); magnets and magnetic items; feathers, leaves and other items from nature; magnifying glasses and mirrors.

Dramatic Play Center – including dramatic play furniture (materials available depend on the current theme), dishes, utensils, place mats, pots, pans, food sets, telephones, computer keyboards, old typewriters, dressup clothes, purses, wallets, shoes, menus, a cash register, paper, and pencils.

Construction and Design Center – including a complete set of unit blocks; area rug; large and small vehicles; animals, people and traffic signs; recyclables such as cardboard boxes of different sizes, paper towel tubes, and oatmeal containers.

Reading and Listening Center – including children’s literature (with the current theme-related literature), magazines, song and poem charts; an audiocassette or CD player, headphones, stories recorded on tape and/or other tape-recorded songs; stories and poems; soft elements such as rugs, pillows and beanbags; and a bookshelf.

Writing Center – including La Petite Academy-branded children’s journals; pens, pencils, colored pencils, crayons, markers; various paper supplies, index cards; recycled magazines (that have been reviewed), menus, books, newspapers; clipboards and notebooks; and magnetic letters and flash cards.

Circle Time Wall

La Petite Academy’s Circle Time Wall reflects your child’s daily routines. Here, you will find:

  • I Spy! – incorporates shapes, numbers and counting, colors and recognition
  • Rhyme Time – 30 great songs, poems, chants and nursery rhymes
  • Weather Watcher – calendar with weather cards to keep track of the weather that day
  • Daily Schedule – your child will help build the daily schedule using a pocket chart and clock cards
  • Kids of Character – features character trait of the month

Children’s Artwork

Our teachers love displaying your child’s artwork in the classroom. Public display encourages our budding artists and reminds them that their hard work has meaning and conveys their thoughts and creativity. The teacher will date and label all projects so that you can quickly and easily understand what your child’s thoughts were as he worked on him creation.

Setting the Stage

Research shows that, when children are in an attractive and inviting environment, they’re happier, get along and concentrate better, and have a more positive attitude about themselves and school. To ensure that the classroom is inviting and exciting for the children, we get the classroom ready, or “set the stage,” for each theme and day.

The classroom will seem to change overnight, as teachers switch from one theme to the next. They might change out many of the learning materials, decorate the classroom based on the theme, and add children’s literature that helps to make the theme come alive. For example, during the “Artistic Treasures” theme, the teacher might create an art gallery or museum within the Dramatic Play Center so that the children can pretend to show their art to various “customers.” Around the classroom, the teacher will display different kinds of art so that the classroom is exposed to different media and experiences.

Every two weeks a new theme is introduced into the Preschool classroom and our teachers create room props, dedicate a special place to display artwork, and display books that reflect the theme.

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pea_classroom_designDesign Issue

This study introduced a scale to rate preschool classrooms on their physical characteristics related to children’s development of competency and assessed if children in higher-rated classrooms were more competent.

  • Children learn from their interactions with the physical environment as well as their interactions with people. Thus, it is important to understand what qualities and characteristics of an environment promote competence and learning.
  • Other classroom assessment tools do not fully assess the physical environment and consider its contribution to children’s development.

Design Criteria

  • Consider using the rating scale presented in this study when assessing early childhood classrooms.
  • Create appropriate adjacencies in childcare classrooms to help preschool children fully engage in activities and subsequently feel more competent by designing classrooms that:
    • Provide spaces with complementary play areas and support areas adjacent to each other.
    • Give children easy access to large motor development areas and to areas providing personal care (e.g., bathrooms).
  • Facilitate the development of competency in 3-year-olds by designing classrooms that:
    • Supply furniture and play items that children can easily move and rearrange.
    • Avoid placing undue limitations on how children use the space (e.g., supplying inappropriately scaled fixtures).
    • Facilitate exploration by supplying circulation paths and sight lines.
    • Offer a sensory-rich environment by providing variety in color, lighting amounts, floor and ceiling elevations, textures, and the shape of the space.
    • Include spaces where children can have privacy.

Key Concepts 

  • From an environment-behavior perspective, competency is the ability to interact effectively with one’s surroundings and at a developmentally appropriate level (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Trancik & Evans, 1995; White, 1959). The ability to interact with one’s environment is particularly important to young children’s learning.
  • The quality of the physical environment was found to correlate with children’s general competence in the classrooms of three-year-olds, indicating that physical features of preschool classrooms may be as important to the quality of childcare programs as teacher education and experience.
  • Three- and four-year-olds’ self-perceptions of their competence were higher in classrooms with good adjacency features (e.g., compatible activity areas next to each other and good access by children to gross motor play areas and toileting facilities).

Research Method

  • The physical characteristics of classrooms in suburban and small- to medium-sized urban communities (98, in 48 different child care centers) were rated on a 37-item scale. The seven categories of items on the scale (i.e., social spaces, boundaries, privacy, personalization, complexity, adjacency, and scale) were related to the attributes identified by previous research (Trancik & Evans, 1995; Evans, 1995) as associated with children’s development of competence. Each item was rated excellent, adequate, or inadequate for each classroom based on criteria developed by previous research (Greenman, 1988; Moore, 1986, 1987; Olds, 2000; Prescott, 1987).
  • Three-year-old and four-year-old children (79, 53% female) with an average age of 52.7 months from a subsample of eight classrooms (two in each of four child care centers) were tested using the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children (Harter & Dike, 1984) and McCarthy’s Scales of Children’s Ability (McCarthy, 1972). After being pilot-tested, items were removed from the Pictorial Scale because preschool children had difficulty understanding them.
  • Classrooms were rated a second and third time (i.e., before the testing and halfway through the testing) to ensure accuracy.
  • Upon testing completion, families of the children were contacted to obtain demographic information.
  • Descriptive statistics, t-tests, and regression analysis were used to analyze the data.


  • The small sample sizes, the cross-sectional format of the study, and the homogenous demographic characteristics of the subjects may limit the generalizabilty of the findings.
  • Some children may have had difficulty responding to the questions on the Pictorial Scale


A correlation between the quality of the classroom’s physical environment and children’s competency was shown for one of two categories of children (three-year-olds and not four-year-olds) on one of two tests administered. Tables listing the items on the classroom rating scale and mean scores for all classrooms on the McCarthy’s scale were included. The author recommended future longitudinal research and a larger, more heterogeneous sample. Studies considering teacher assessment of children’s competency were also recommended.

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