The Design and Evaluation of the Physical Environment of Young Children’s Learning Settings

  • Elizabeth MatthewsEmail author
  • Peter C. Lippman


The impacts of high-quality early childhood education on children’s health and development are legion and far-reaching. Historically, efforts to improve quality have targeted the social and curricular aspects of early childhood programs. The physical setting of schools has received less attention, despite the vast body of research over the past several decades which has revealed the numerous ways that the built environment shapes young children’s educational experiences. In this paper we review the extant literature on the connections between physical environment and children’s learning and development, and present evidence-based design and assessment principles for these educational settings, with practical applications for educators. We argue that discussions of educational quality are incomplete without addressing the built aspects of learning centres and provide practical guidance for evidence-based design of these environments.


Early childhood learning environments Spatial design Physical environment Design School architecture 



No funding was received to support the development or publication of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author(s) declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

This study did not involve human subjects or data obtained from human subjects and therefore did not require ethical approval.

Informed Consent

This study did not involve human subjects. No informed consent was required.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.City CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.La Trobe UniversityBendigo VICAustralia

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