How Things Have Changed in Creating Engaging Learning Spaces for the Youngest Members of the Congregation
For many religious organizations, making facilities safe and welcoming for members’ children is a growing priority. Now, more than basic babysitting or daycare, houses of worship are updating and upgrading classrooms and community spaces to provide even the youngest children with spaces to play, create, and most of all, learn.
Here are several tips and practical ideas to make the spaces you provide for children engaging, fun, safe, and child focused.
Design for Learning
New modular tables, seating areas, and dramatic play furnishings can serve multiple purposes each day. Flexible table shapes can serve as learning centers for small groups, individual areas for reading or art projects, and work well for whole group instruction and activities. Equipped with safe and durable casters, these kinds of furniture pieces can move easily and be re-arranged in multiple configurations to accommodate a range of activities and children’s ages.
When outfitting a classroom, look for mobile cabinets and storage solutions, and pieces that can easily accommodate a wide range of uses. Mobile stations with slots for books and reading material, shelves and trays for storage, and a display board can be the perfect aide for any instructor and make teaching easier. Items like sensory tables and puppet stands make learning fun and help children imagine teachings and stories.
Invest in Flexibility and Durability
Furnishings that can be adjusted, grouped together modularly, and are constructed specifically to withstand the demands of an educational environment offer the quality and durability churches need. Product warranties and the manufacturer’s continuity of product and service over time also serve to protect the value of the initial furniture investment.
Plan for Smooth Check-In & Check-Out
Child drop-off and pick-up can be hectic as all parents and church educators know. A simple solution is a dedicated sign-in center that includes an easy area for sign-in and sign-out. Ideal features include a built-in place to store papers and other hand-outs, along with easy-access slots for teachers and students to store or grab take-home items, parent messages, or projects made in class.
Choose Safety First. Choose Safety Always.
Safety is priority one when caring for children. Classroom furnishings can contribute to safer spaces when they are designed to include rounded corners and edges, enclosed hinges, kickplates, and are constructed using safe finishes. Stability in design and materials is also a ‘must-have’ to help avoid heavy pieces from falling or being knocked down.
Explore Healthy Options
For infant spaces and toddler care, diaper changing stations, storage for cleaning items, and space dividers for cribs keep rooms cleaner and safer for children and caregivers alike. And while the pandemic has been officially declared over, parents and educators alike worry about keeping children as germ-free as possible. Furniture that is designed to be easy to clean and durable against everyday cleaners is a must. Items such as portable sinks are designed for rooms without plumbing connections so children can wash their hands as needed. These sinks were in high demand during COVID and continue to be popular additions to classrooms and daycare settings.
Use the Expertise of Classroom Design Specialists
Often, churches and other religious care and education leaders need help with designing and planning the best layout for an early learning environment. Using the expertise of room design specialists who have substantial expertise in planning classroom and daycare facilities to accommodate both learning needs and an organization’s budget requirements can be invaluable. With computer-assisted design capabilities and virtual reality room ‘tours’, it’s easy to see multiple options for furniture components and placement and to support optimal space utilization.
The Possibilities Are Exciting…
From the use of color to the integration of play, care, and learning, there is a kaleidoscope of options to create spaces that will make your facilities welcoming, safe, and bright for your youngest members!
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