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International Journal of Early Childhood

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 355–372 | Cite as

Physical Environments of Early Childhood Education Centres: Facilitating and Inhibiting Factors Supporting Children’s Participation

  • Helen KnaufEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

A normative demand placed on early childhood centres by political actors and education theorists is that they should promote participation by children. Numerous publications have set out recommendations for early childhood teachers on how to promote participation in their day-to-day activities. The present study considers the role of the environment in facilitating children’s participation through a visual environmental analysis, using photographs from two group environments in two different centres across three countries (Germany, New Zealand, and the USA). The analyses distinguished between environmental features of: transparency, structure, flexibility and responsivity, accessibility of materials, functional diversity, and representations of children in the environment. The findings demonstrate that a systematic approach to the analysis of physical environments can provide greater understanding about how environments may facilitate or constrain young children’s participation in early childhood centres. This study contributes to the methodological development for this field of analyses in early childhood education.

Keywords

Child participation Early childhood education Physical environment Visual environment analysis Cross-national research 

Résumé

Encourager la participation des enfants est une exigence normative que les acteurs politiques et les théoriciens de l’éducation imposent aux centres de la petite enfance. De nombreuses publications ont formulé des recommandations aux enseignants de la petite enfance sur la façon de promouvoir la participation dans leurs activités quotidiennes. La présente étude examine le rôle de l’environnement physique dans la facilitation de la participation des enfants, au moyen d’une analyse visuelle de l’environnement utilisant des photographies de deux environnements de groupe, dans deux centres différents, de trois pays (Allemagne, Nouvelle-Zélande et États-Unis). Les analyses font la distinction entre ces caractéristiques environnementales spécifiques: transparence, structure, flexibilité et réceptivité, accessibilité du matériel, diversité fonctionnelle et représentations des enfants dans l’environnement. Les résultats démontrent qu’une approche systématique de l’analyse des environnements physiques peut permettre de mieux comprendre comment les environnements peuvent faciliter ou gêner la participation des jeunes enfants dans les centres de la petite enfance. Cette étude contribue au développement méthodologique de ce domaine d’analyse pour l’éducation de la petite enfance.

Resumen

Actores políticos y teoristas de la educación han incorporado como norma la promoción de la participación de los niños en los centros de educación infantil. Un gran número de publicaciones incluyen recomendaciones para que los educadores de centros de aprendizaje infantil promuevan la participación de los niños en sus actividades diarias. La presente investigación considera el papel que juega el ambiente físico para motivar la participación de los niños, mediante un análisis visual utilizando fotografías de dos grupos en dos centros diferentes en tres países: Alemania, Nueva Zelanda y los Estados Unidos. Los análisis distinguieron entre características ambientes tales como: transparencia, estructura, flexibilidad y participación, facilidad de acceso a materiales, diversidad funcional, y representaciones de los niños en el ambiente. Los resultados demuestran que un método sistemático para el análisis de ambientes físicos puede brindar mayor comprensión sobre la forma en que dichos ambientes facilitan o restringen la participación de niños pequeños en los centros de aprendizaje infantil. Este estudio contribuye al desarrollo metodológico de este campo de análisis para la educación infantil temprana.

Notes

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social SciencesBielefeld University of Applied SciencesBielefeldGermany

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