Environment Matters

Often referred to as the emotional brain.
This part houses the visual memory. It maintains blood pressure, heart
rate and body temperature. It is critical to learning and for short and
long term memory. It stores memories of your lifetime experiences.
In practice:
The limbic brain responds to the five senses, so ensure your enabling
environment provides a range of sensory experiences. From treasure
baskets to heuristic play: source as many natural materials as possible
to tap into children’s senses.
Limbic brain
sensory play
Sensory experiences are vital, as a child’s long term memory is more effective when an experience is linked to one of
the senses or to an emotion. We link our senses to our experiences, so it is important to realise that memories of our
senses can be positive or negative. Give unconditional positive feedback, the limbic brain loves to know it’s doing a
good job and to know it can do even better.
Children need to believe that what they are doing is worthwhile, it must have purpose otherwise motivation and
attention will be low. Someone who knows the child well, a key person, will help the child to build a sense of
identity as a learner.
When children believe they can be capable learners they will have improved self-esteem.Positive self-belief will allow
messages through to the learning part of the brain, helping to speed up children’s thinking.
feeling different textures with my feet xtures with my feet
This is the most primitive part of the brain. It contains all the basic bodily functions such
as hunger, thirst and warmth. It is responsible for survival instincts, fight or flight.
In practice:
Give children their own space: a coat peg, a den indoors and outdoors. Ensure that
children are physically comfortable: not hungry, or cold or too hot, or thirsty; ensure they
have appropriate clothing and furniture. Ensure that there is structure and rhythm to the
day, so that children feel confident. As well as the indoor and outdoor environment,
consider the emotional environment.Establish secure emotional attachments for children!
Reptilian brain
fresh, fit, fun
For information on any of the furniture shown in this leaflet please contact
www.habaeducation.co.uk · Email info@haba.co.uk · Tel 0161 304 9555
“The best classroom and the widest cupboard is roofed only by the sky”!
~ Margaret McMillan ~
Plan time for children to consolidate their learning. The high-scope method of
plan-do-review encourages children to consolidate their learning. Enhance their
critical thinking by giving children opportunities to speak with each other about
their experiences.
Plan for activities and experiences that require only short bursts of concentration:
listening to stories, doing group work and playing games.
“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep
and continuing needs, is good for him.” ~ Maya Angelou
Neocortex – The reasoning brain
Laura Henry is a leading, award winning expert in Early Years education, both
in the UK and internationally.
For three decades she has used her skills to support colleagues who work
directly with children, parents and companies; she has worked with organi-
sations that provide services and expertise to children and families.
She is a highly regarded and popular trainer and author.
Laura is passionate about quality in the Early Years sector, making sure that
children receive the best possible care to help them reach their full potential.
She is a regular contributor to Nursery World and other trade publications.
Laura has sat on the judging panel for the Nursery World and Nursery
Management Awards on numerous occasions. She has shared her expert
knowledge with Government departments, as well as with national and inter-
national organisations.
The Author
The neocortex is involved in higher functions, such as sensory perception, spatial
reasoning, conscious thought and language. It accounts for about 76% of the
brain’s volume; it is also linked to social aspects of life.
In practice:
Help children to understand how what they are doing today connects with what
they were doing yesterday. Listen to children and have meaningful conversations.
Recall past events, using open-ended questions.
Use natural materials. Treasure baskets and sensory experiences of unusual
objects will be the most effective. Make good use of the outdoor area.
Plan for children to have long periods of uninterrupted time to explore,
investigate and follow their own individual interests. Carry out regular audits
to ascertain how many times children are interrupted.
Are the interruptions necessary? Who are the interruptions for? Do they have the
child’s needs at the centre? Routine is good for helping children to feel secure and
emotionally safe. However, we must also give children long periods of time to allow
them to make sense of what they are doing.
time to think and reflect
It is imperative that children within an Early Years setting receive
holistic, sensitive support to develop their rapidly growing brains.
The brain is a complex organ, growing rapidly during a child’s for-
mative years.
For Educators, awareness of this and how to enhance positive brain
development are key to improving children’s long term outcomes at
school and beyond.
In this commentary I will focus on three parts of the brain, what each
part does and how Educators can develop these parts of the brain in
their practice within an Early Years setting.
s.
space to investigate
ha hat t t t t t t he he he he he he help lp lp lp lp lp lp lps s s s s s s a a a a a ch ch ch ch ch ch chil il il il il ild d d d d d to to to to to to to fffffffor or or or or or orm m m m m m m a a a a a a a ha ha ha ha ha ha habi bi bi bi bi bi bit t t t t t t of of of of of of of rrrrrrrea ea ea ea ea ea eadi di di di di di ding ng ng ng ng ng ng ng, , , , , , , to to to to to to to mmmmmmmak ak ak ak ak ak ake e e e e e e re re re re re re read ad ad ad ad ad adin in in in in in ing g g g g g g g on on on on on on one e e e e e e of of of of of of of hhhhhhhis is is is is is is dddddddee ee ee ee ee ee eep p p p p p p p
ng ng ng ng ng ng ng ng nnneeds, is good for him.” ~ Maya Angelou ”
“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading
one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
~ Maya Angelou ~
Provide opportunities for choice and decision-making,
use open ended tasks, allow children ownership of
their activities.
Remember, children will often take different routes to
reach the same destination. Allow children to make
their own mistakes and to problem solve. Let them
think about their own answers and step back so that
they can come up with their own ideas and suggestions.
Children learn through interacting with others. Provide opportunities for children to work
alongside friends as well as adults. When setting up the continuous provision indoors and out-
doors, ask yourselves the following questions. Are we allowing children the time to connect and
collaborate with their peers? Do we set aside key person time for children to
have meaningful conversations with their key person? Do we audit the number
and length of conversations that take place? Are the conversations more
instructional or do they tap into children’s creative thinking?
space to manoeuvre
time with my key person
independent reading
Plan time for children to consolidate their learning. The high-scope method of
plan-do-review encourages children to consolidate their learning. Enhance their
critical thinking by giving children opportunities to speak with each other about
their experiences.
Plan for activities and experiences that require only short bursts of concentration:
listening to stories, doing group work and playing games.
“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep
and continuing needs, is good for him.” ~ Maya Angelou
Neocortex – The reasoning brain
Laura Henry is a leading, award winning expert in Early Years education, both
in the UK and internationally.
For three decades she has used her skills to support colleagues who work
directly with children, parents and companies; she has worked with organi-
sations that provide services and expertise to children and families.
She is a highly regarded and popular trainer and author.
Laura is passionate about quality in the Early Years sector, making sure that
children receive the best possible care to help them reach their full potential.
She is a regular contributor to Nursery World and other trade publications.
Laura has sat on the judging panel for the Nursery World and Nursery
Management Awards on numerous occasions. She has shared her expert
knowledge with Government departments, as well as with national and inter-
national organisations.
The Author
The neocortex is involved in higher functions, such as sensory perception, spatial
reasoning, conscious thought and language. It accounts for about 76% of the
brain’s volume; it is also linked to social aspects of life.
In practice:
Help children to understand how what they are doing today connects with what
they were doing yesterday. Listen to children and have meaningful conversations.
Recall past events, using open-ended questions.
Use natural materials. Treasure baskets and sensory experiences of unusual
objects will be the most effective. Make good use of the outdoor area.
Plan for children to have long periods of uninterrupted time to explore,
investigate and follow their own individual interests. Carry out regular audits
to ascertain how many times children are interrupted.
Are the interruptions necessary? Who are the interruptions for? Do they have the
child’s needs at the centre? Routine is good for helping children to feel secure and
emotionally safe. However, we must also give children long periods of time to allow
them to make sense of what they are doing.
time to think and reflect
It is imperative that children within an Early Years setting receive
holistic, sensitive support to develop their rapidly growing brains.
The brain is a complex organ, growing rapidly during a child’s for-
mative years.
For Educators, awareness of this and how to enhance positive brain
development are key to improving children’s long term outcomes at
school and beyond.
In this commentary I will focus on three parts of the brain, what each
part does and how Educators can develop these parts of the brain in
their practice within an Early Years setting.
s.
space to investigate
ha hat t t t t t t he he he he he he help lp lp lp lp lp lp lps s s s s s s a a a a a ch ch ch ch ch ch chil il il il il ild d d d d d to to to to to to to fffffffor or or or or or orm m m m m m m a a a a a a a ha ha ha ha ha ha habi bi bi bi bi bi bit t t t t t t of of of of of of of rrrrrrrea ea ea ea ea ea eadi di di di di di ding ng ng ng ng ng ng ng, , , , , , , to to to to to to to mmmmmmmak ak ak ak ak ak ake e e e e e e re re re re re re read ad ad ad ad ad adin in in in in in ing g g g g g g g on on on on on on one e e e e e e of of of of of of of hhhhhhhis is is is is is is dddddddee ee ee ee ee ee eep p p p p p p p
ng ng ng ng ng ng ng ng nnneeds, is good for him.” ~ Maya Angelou ”
“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading
one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
~ Maya Angelou ~
Provide opportunities for choice and decision-making,
use open ended tasks, allow children ownership of
their activities.
Remember, children will often take different routes to
reach the same destination. Allow children to make
their own mistakes and to problem solve. Let them
think about their own answers and step back so that
they can come up with their own ideas and suggestions.
Children learn through interacting with others. Provide opportunities for children to work
alongside friends as well as adults. When setting up the continuous provision indoors and out-
doors, ask yourselves the following questions. Are we allowing children the time to connect and
collaborate with their peers? Do we set aside key person time for children to
have meaningful conversations with their key person? Do we audit the number
and length of conversations that take place? Are the conversations more
instructional or do they tap into children’s creative thinking?
space to manoeuvre
time with my key person
independent reading
Environment Matters
Often referred to as the emotional brain.
This part houses the visual memory. It maintains blood pressure, heart
rate and body temperature. It is critical to learning and for short and
long term memory. It stores memories of your lifetime experiences.
In practice:
The limbic brain responds to the five senses, so ensure your enabling
environment provides a range of sensory experiences. From treasure
baskets to heuristic play: source as many natural materials as possible
to tap into children’s senses.
Limbic brain
sensory play
Sensory experiences are vital, as a child’s long term memory is more effective when an experience is linked to one of
the senses or to an emotion. We link our senses to our experiences, so it is important to realise that memories of our
senses can be positive or negative. Give unconditional positive feedback, the limbic brain loves to know it’s doing a
good job and to know it can do even better.
Children need to believe that what they are doing is worthwhile, it must have purpose otherwise motivation and
attention will be low. Someone who knows the child well, a key person, will help the child to build a sense of
identity as a learner.
When children believe they can be capable learners they will have improved self-esteem.Positive self-belief will allow
messages through to the learning part of the brain, helping to speed up children’s thinking.
feeling different textures with my feet xtures with my feet
This is the most primitive part of the brain. It contains all the basic bodily functions such
as hunger, thirst and warmth. It is responsible for survival instincts, fight or flight.
In practice:
Give children their own space: a coat peg, a den indoors and outdoors. Ensure that
children are physically comfortable: not hungry, or cold or too hot, or thirsty; ensure they
have appropriate clothing and furniture. Ensure that there is structure and rhythm to the
day, so that children feel confident. As well as the indoor and outdoor environment,
consider the emotional environment.Establish secure emotional attachments for children!
Reptilian brain
fresh, fit, fun
For information on any of the furniture shown in this leaflet please contact
www.habaeducation.co.uk · Email info@haba.co.uk · Tel 0161 304 9555
“The best classroom and the widest cupboard is roofed only by the sky”!
~ Margaret McMillan ~