We have discussed the school’s learning environment, but let’s discuss it in the parent’s persepective in looking for a school for their children. I have seen schools with very expensive surroundings but with a very weak curriculum. Don’t judge a school with its chairs, tables, expensive toys and playgrounds. Even if a school has these things, if their curriculum is weak and they do not have a clear philosophy, then they are just a glorified daycare center. I have also seen schools with very humble learning materials but have very strong curricula, definite philosophies, and great teachers. These resources outweigh the physical all the time.
The important thing you should watch out for is cleanliness and maintenance for the furniture and classrooms. Are the chairs and tables well-maintained? Are the walls of the rooms clean? Is there a variety of learning materials — puzzles, blocks, toy animals? Is the reading area well-stocked with books? I highlight this because there are many schools that say they are literature-based but have very few books in the reading area because of cost-cutting! Their philosophy should be congruent to the learning environment.
The classrooms should also be big enough for the class size. The children should have space to move around the different learning areas.
Most importantly, the progressive classroom is a decentralized classroom. It is divided into learning areas namely, a Manipulatives area where the the blocks, puzzles and other table top materials are located, the Activity Area where the tables and chairs are (this doubles up as the Eating Area), a Reading Area (which hopefully, is stocked with books… I’ve seen Reading Areas that can hardly be called as such), etc. For a more detailed description of these areas, go to our posts about Learning Environment.