The Learning Environment Part 1: The Reading Area

The learning environment is a key element of a school’s curriculum design. The planning of a school’s physical space should coordinate with its goals and philosophy. The traditional classroom has all the student’s chairs facing the blackboard and the teacher. The classroom set up of a progressive school though are demarcated instead by different learning areas or decentralized, allowing the children and teacher to move around each area.

The learning areas are usually the following:

1. Reading Area

It houses the books of the classroom usually on low shelves with book covers out. A mat is usually found in front of the shelves in order for the students to assume any comfortable position while reading.

One of my frustrations when I was observing schools is the scarcity of books available in this area. I understand that books are a big investment and school directors often choose to keep the “good” books out of children’s reach for fear of them being torn or destroyed. However, the love of reading can only be developed if books are made available to the children. In our school, we set up a Library Program Fee that the parents pay in the beginning of the year. This allows the child to borrow a book from the Reading Area and the School Library. If their child did not lose or damage a book, the parents have an option of getting the fee back or donating it to the school to improve the Library facilities.

Book choices in this area stem from the class theme and students’ interests. There should also be a conscious effort to include culture based books. For example, a progressive Filipino classroom should have Filipino story books in its shelves. Adarna House and Tahanan Books have great Filipino writers under their roofs! The process of reading for a child begins in being read-aloud to. Jim Trelease has a great book called The Read Aloud Handbook that informs parents and teachers the value of reading out loud to children and lists down book suggestions by kind, level and age

The Reading Area may be a corner, a bookshelf or a box of books.

Your Reading Area is progressive if:

1. It has enough books for every child to choose 2-3 books to read (the number of students you have multiplied by 2)

2. It contains developmentally-appropriate books.

3. There are books related to the class’ theme and the children’s interests.

4. There are culture-based books.

5. The children can borrow the books.

6. A teacher is present to read the books to the children.

7. The children are allowed to TOUCH the books!

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8 thoughts on “The Learning Environment Part 1: The Reading Area

  1. hi teacher tina i’m back!

    i understand how it feels not being able to share the books with the students…im one of the guilty ones! but im pretty selective though…i let the children touch and use most books readily available in the bookstores so in case they damage it i can readily replace it…im a book person too and it hurts me seeing the books tattered…plus we don’t charge lib fee in my school for the fact that we don’t have an enclosed library like in other schools and parents in our place tend to raise eyebrows for every fee charged in their matriculation…

    anyways, some books i bought in Booksale are the books i pretty treasure much because these are rare books we dont have here; these are the books high up in the bookshelf…i let the kids use it after i read them stories though, then keep it again after dismissal… this lessens the guilty feeling…hehehe…

    i have oriented parents at the start of the school year that we treasure books in our center and asked them to help us teach the children the value of books in our lives, caring for them, and actually reading them, this year we have lesser damages as ive noticed…

    what other advise can you give me aside from having a lib fee? i want to be guilt-free on this part! 🙂

    1. Hi Teacher Leng! I feel for you. I also treasure the books in our library and it saddens me to see students not taking care of them. This is why it’s important to teach them how to take care of the books.

      I also know the feeling being questioned for additional fees like our library fee. However, parents are very understanding if they see where the fee is going to. We introduced the library fee only this year and the parents were very open to it because they saw the improvement in our library facilities and the additional books that we purchased. Also, since our curriculum has a strong literature base, it is easy for us to justify the need for more books.

      We also purchase from Booksale. Don’t you just love finding a Dr Seuss board book for only PhP50.00 ?!?! What we do is to purchase multiple copies of the classic children’s books from places like Booksale or Books for Less. We also rotate books that are on the shelves so the kids will have a variety of choices without putting out all the books.

      A lot of our families also donate books! Your families can be very generous if they trust that the school manages its resources well.

      Hope this helps!

  2. t.tina!

    it’s now my time to give back to you for all the good things ive learned from your site! 🙂

    we have a bookstore here in valenzuela called the Pandayan…they offer used books at good prices…sometimes they also promo this with buy 1 take 1 and that’s what i’ve been looking forward to year round! the bookstore is part of the CVC chain of stores, may be you have one in your place! i bought a book there entitled “love you forever” by robert munsch for P50.00! regular price at National bookstore is around P270. they have the berenstein bears series also for P35-P50 and dr.seuss for P45-60…great deal right? so scout for the store!

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