If you add up the number of hours children spend in the classroom over the course of a year, you will see that this environment is a predominate location for children. To support the social emotional growth and identity of children, it is important to have their values reflected in the learning environment. The following are ways to support and promote student values and build a caring community within a classroom.
1. Being a home away from home- When students see themselves reflected in their classroom environment it provides a sense of comfort and belonging. Family pictures, food items, and other items from home will spark opportunities for conversation and exposure to various cultures.
2. Connecting children to their families- Families not only provide great insight into students' interests but can also bridge the gap between home and school. Read-alouds, folktales, and inviting parents into the classroom to discuss how they are a worker of the community will not only build vocabulary but allow children to see how their classroom is an extension of the community.
3. Providing softness-Sensory exploration can invoke curiosity and tranquility within children. Natural light, a cozy chair, feathers, and soft carpets are a few examples of items that support emotional development.
4. Shared control with all members of the classroom community-Students are able to create learning opportunities by using their interests and creativity to explore the world around them. With teacher support, children are provided opportunities for problem solving, conflict resolution, and inquiry. This mode of learning empowers students to be thinkers and know that their thoughts are valued as a partner in the the caring classroom community.