We know that a rich and varied environment supports children’s learning and development. It gives them the confidence to explore and learn in secure and safe, yet challenging, indoor and outdoor spaces.

An appropriate physical environment is one in which children feel safe, happy, cared for and relaxed. It offers children access to indoor and outdoor spaces in which they can explore, create, think, learn and develop with the support and interactions from sensitive, knowledgeable adults.

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New Resources in the Boat Room

It is worth considering these challenges and dilemmas:

Finding ways to promote the importance and value of the outdoor environment to all those involved in the setting, for example, the senior management team, other professionals, staff and parents.

Meeting the needs of children of different ages in a shared outdoor space.

Overcoming problems in accessing and using the outdoor environment because of the design or organisation of the building.

Ensuring the indoor environment is ‘homely’ enough to feel comfortable while providing an environment suitable for learning.

We know that:

Babies, toddlers and young children thrive best in an environment that supports and promotes their active learning and development.

Young children require space, indoors and outdoors, where they can be active or quiet, and where they can think, dream and watch others.

The space needs to be appropriate for the age and development of all the children so that they can have suitable access to it and can interact within it.

The space needs to be secure, appropriately heated and aired and free from hazards.

There need to be well-organised areas and resources, both natural and manufactured, which are accessible by the children.


There should be opportunities for a range of activities such as soft play, paint mixing, growing plants, mark-making, looking at books, reading stories, or exploring the properties of materials such as clay, sand or water.

The space both indoors and outdoors should preferably be available all the time so children can choose activities and follow their interests.

The outdoor space needs to offer shade and shelter, and children should have opportunities to experience changing seasons and the passing of time.

In deciding what is an ‘appropriate environment’ it is important to understand the way babies, toddlers and young children learn and to provide for the age and stage of the children concerned. There is no ideal environment as babies’ and young children’s interests change, and the environment should be flexible to change in response to these changing interests.

Early Years Foundation Stage (2016) Principles into Practice Card 3.3

Children need time to learn and develop at their own pace.


Effective practice involves providing opportunities for children in meaningful, engaging experiences that support their development in all areas of the curriculum. 


The indoor environment provides a safe, secure yet challenging space for children. For some children, the indoor environment is like a second ‘home’, providing a place for activity, rest, eating and sleeping. The indoor environment contains resources which are appropriate, well maintained and accessible for all children. Indoor spaces are planned so that they can be used flexibly and an appropriate range of activities is provided.

Characteristics of Effective Learning


How do children learn?

We made this Characteristics of Effective Learning board. The Characteristics of Effective Learning and the prime and specific areas of learning learning and development are all interconnected. The ways in which a child engages with other people and their environment - playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically - underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain and affective and motivated learner. 

Formative Assessment

We use ongoing Formative Assessment to observe the children as they act and interact in a play with then use this observation to help to identify where the child may be in their developmental pathway. We then consider ways to support the child to strengthen and deepen their current learning by planning experiences and opportunities and change the learning environment and resources to extend the child's current learning and development.

So this board will help us to make observations on your child and pin them to the correct statement to help us to plan the Next Steps.