In the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (Rev Ed) by Harms, Clifford and Cryer, schools are rated according to several concepts. Under Room arrangement for play, the preschool will fail in rating if it has no learning centers defined. A Learning/Interest Area was defined as an area where materials, organized by type, are stores so that they are accessible to children, and appropriately furnished play space is provided for children to participate in a particular kind of play. Examples of areas are art, blocks, dramatic play, reading, nature / science, and manipulatives / fine motor.
Aside from having more than 3 learning areas, the preschool will score highly if:
Quiet and Active centers placed to not interfere with one another (Ex. reading or listening area separated from blocks or housekeeping
Space is arranged so most activities are not interrupted (Ex. shelves placed so children walk around, not through, activities; placement of furniture discourages rough play or running)
Areas are organized for independent use by children (Ex. labeled open shelves; labeled containers for toys; open shelves are not overcrowded; play space near toy storage).
Sufficient space for several activities to go on once (Ex. floor space for blocks, tables space for manipulatives, easel for art)
Watch out for articles explaining each learning area…