“YES” Environments for Children
"YES" Environments are about creating spaces for children which give freedom to both children and parents!!
As I sit down to write my blog for this 13th Day of July, we are in the midst of summer. For those of you with children at home, you may be having a wonderful time, or you may be counting the days until school begins. In either case, I hope that these ideas will add to the summer fun you are experiencing with your children.
I’ve found that when the home play environment for children is inviting, age-appropriate and allows for independence, summer can be a most enjoyable time for all, parents and children alike!
As I’ve looked back on the days when my children were little I realized that I was a parent who needed some time to myself each day. I automatically set up an environment where my children could be free and happy and I could share their joy and delight as I observed them at play. They were always in my eye’s view, but I could be doing something independently. Such environments decrease children having to depend on the adult for every little thing and, in addition, it allows children to be self-reliable and somewhat independent.
Characteristics of “YES” Environments
A “YES” Environment allows a child to be engaged in fun age-appropriate activities. Thus, their behavior, for the most part, is accepted and agreeable to all those around. They here YES” much more than they hear “NO”!
A “YES” environment allows a child to learn through trial and error, exploring his/her capabilities and to discover what s/he is able to do, without fear of rejection or ridicule.
A “YES” environment allows the adult to be a “watchful observer”, sitting back, observing the child and yet not being the center of his/her world during the child’s times of play. This gives freedom to both child and parent.
A “YES” environment develops a child’s self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem, because their actions are allowed, appreciated and respected.
SETTING UP A "YES" ENVIRONMENT FOR CHILDREN:
A “YES” environment can be created in a variety of places in your home. Actually each and every room can be a “YES” environment in some way. My first child had cerebral palsy and was not mobile. Because I always moved him from room to room with me, I wanted to always have a place for him to play and enjoy himself, thus I made every room in our home a “YES” environment. In this way he was always able to have freedom wherever we were in our home.
Plan to observe your children for a week or so and see what their play choices are in your home. Following are some questions you may want to ask yourself during this week.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF AS YOU OBSERVE YOUR CHILDREN AT PLAY:
1. Which rooms do they most often play in?
2. What are the activities they most enjoy?
3. How often do they need to ask you for help?
4. What are the challenges they have during play time?
5. Is it possible to set the room/s up in a way that allows them to be more independent? More self-reliant?
6. Does the present environment work for them?
7. Does the play environment allow them to be creative?
8. Does the play environment bring on boredom quickly?
The most workable rooms for a YES Environment would be the child’s bedroom, the family room and/or living room. Wherever it is that your family hangs out most of the time is a good place for a “YES” environment. Children love being with Mom and Dad, Grandma or Grandpa, so developing a play and workspace nearby is the best solution for all in most cases.
CREATING THE YES ENVIRONMENT WITH YOUR OLDER CHILD:
1. Take the information you gained from your observation to think of how you can create YES Environments for them.
2. Hold a Family Meeting with your children and talk about creating a play space for them. Ask them what they’d like to have in it. Make suggestions too, based on your observations.
3. Consider the following possible ideas for your YES Environment, when talking to your children.
• Library of books (a monthly trip to the library can supply you with a multitude of great reading material)
• Desk space / table space / sized to fit your child
• Pens/ papers/ art supplies / All easily accessible
• Games/ easy to reach
• Building blocks, Lego sets
• Cards games
• Various art supplies for creative projects
• Puppet stage/ puppets
When children have activities that are of interest to them, set up in a way that allows for their creativity and independence, they feel empowered to express themselves. “YES” Environments do give children and adults the freedom to be their unique, individualistic self. What more can a home be used for?
As I observe and work with families in various settings, I see that in many homes, the children are extremely dependent on the parents. Dependent for paper, crayons, tape, etc. When you plan an environment that is age-appropriate for your children, you bring much freedom to yourself and independence to your children. Could it get any better than that?
YES ENVIRONMENTS IN THE CLASSROOM:
"YES" environments can also be set up in the classroom. When you set up such an environment that is age appropriate, the teacher can be free to interact with the children in a fun and creative way...creating magical moments! "WHY?", you might ask? Because the children do not constantly need her attention.
CREATING THE "YES" ENVIRONMENT FOR THE YOUNGER CHILD:
For the younger children you’ll need to create such spaces yourself and then again observe your child and see her/his reaction to the environment. "YES" environments for the young child should be safe, clean, and containing simple objects for them to manipulate. During such play children learn from the "cause and effect" principle; as they do an action, they observe the effect of their actions.
NOTE: I'll address the younger child in a future blogs. Also, I've written an ebook, The Art of Communicating with Infants and Very Young Children. If you'd like a F*R*E*E* copy of it,just email me, and I'll send one to you.
Sharon Ann Wikoff is the mother of three marvelous adult children. She holds two teaching credentials: General Elementary K-8 and Adult Education: Parent Education/ Child Study and holds a CC-ADV certification in EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). Sharon is the author of three eBooks; The Art of Communicating with Infants and very Young Children and the Art of Listening To Children: The 10 Minute Miracle and Daddy, Why Are We Different. She is passionate about inspiring families to raise peaceful children by aligning all that goes on in the home with their "core family values". She works individually with families via the telephone or skype. She can be reached through her website: www.SharonAnnWikoff.com, which also contains her Blog: Raising Peaceful Children, SharonAnnWikoff@gmail.com or at 707 820. 4212