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Breaking the Code: Changing our Thinking About Children’s Environments

by Sandra Duncan
July/August 2011
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/breaking-the-code-changing-our-thinking-about-childrens-environments/5020013/

Sir Winston Churchill said, “We shape our dwellings, and afterward our dwellings shape us.” Although Churchill was referring to rebuilding the House of Commons after heavy bombing during the Battle of Britain more than 50 years ago, his words continue to hold true, especially when designing environments for young children. If dwellings have the power to shape young children’s lives, then it is crucial that we pay close attention to the design and development of these environments.

We are all impacted �" positively or negatively �" by the physical spaces and environments that surround us. Our immersion in these environments influences physical and mental well-being, and tenders our emotions in subtle, yet lasting ways. Entering a beautiful church or synagogue, for instance, evokes a sense of well-being that is dramatically different from entering a bowling alley or sports arena. Or, walking into a doctor’s examining room evokes an emotional and physical feeling that is considerably different from walking into a room for a therapeutic massage. This difference in human stance, attitude, and emotional approach is defined as environmental psychology, which is “the interactions and relations between people and their environments” (Oskamp & Schultz, 1998, p. 206).

As educators and architects of ...

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