Imagine being a pint-sized person just under a meter tall. You know, child-size. Now imagine how the world looks from this vantage point: Everything is always (literally) over your head. You can’t look people in the eye. You have no idea what’s on the shelf or the counter unless someone gives you a boost. You must climb into chairs. And, you can’t see the wall clock without hyperextending your neck!
These are limitations young children experience every day—and that’s why early childhood classrooms can – and should – feel a bit like being in a hobbit house somewhere in Middle Earth. Furniture is tinier, charts and papers are closer to the ground, and if you want to see a child’s prized artwork, you’ll often need to get into a squatting position. Sure, navigating these classrooms might be a bit awkward for us grownups, but this setup allows children to enter their own world – where everything makes sense to their small statures.
Here are just a few benefits
- Health and Safety! When children can easily get items themselves, there are fewer dangerous climbing expeditions to reach high shelves or cupboards.
- Empowerment! Child-size classrooms build confidence! That’s because children have the ability to complete tasks by themselves without asking for help. In other words, they’re like independent explorers who feel safe discovering the exciting world around them.
- Less Frustration! Do you ever wonder what builders are thinking when they design that inaccessible cupboard above the refrigerator? It’s frustrating, right? You may not even remember what’s stored way up there! Making resources, such as books or art supplies, easily accessible is less frustrating for young children. Less frustration means a more peaceful, happy classroom!
With all those benefits, it makes good sense to try implementing them at home, too! Here are four ideas for supporting your child while he catches up to grown-up living
- Get down to his eye level when communicating. This makes him feel valued and listened to—plus, it’s less intimidating when you’re not looming over him.
- Create storage areas she can easily reach. Being able to retrieve and put away her toys, clothes, or other items gives her a sense of independence and accomplishment.
- Display his artwork, projects and family photos where he can see them. Just like you might feel a sense of pride every time you see your school diploma on the wall, he is proud of his accomplishments and loves seeing them displayed! Yes, he might pull the prized painting off the wall or refrigerator, but that’s okay! Just put something new in its place!
- Look at each room from your child’s height. Sit in the middle of your child’s room or play area and take a good look at your surroundings. Is there anything down low that is unsafe? Is there anything too high that needs to be lower? Are there engaging activities and toys available and accessible that will pique her curiosity and interest? Is this a room that welcomes the small child?
Looking through a child’s eyes will open your eyes to a whole new, wondrous world—his world!