Making Small Feel Tall! Why Kid-Size Classrooms Empower Kids
By Cheryl Flanders
Imagine being a pint-size person just three feet tall. You know, kid-size. Now imagine how the world looks from this vantage point: Everything is always (literally) over your head. You can’t look people in the eye. You have no idea what’s on the shelf or on the counter unless someone gives you a boost. You must climb into chairs. And, well, we didn’t want to say it, but you spend a lot of time looking…at people’s butts.
These are limitations children experience every day—and that’s why early childhood classrooms can feel a bit like being in a hobbit house somewhere in Middle Earth. Furniture is tinier, charts and papers are closer to the ground, and if you want to see your child’s prized artwork, you’ll often need to get into a squatting position. Sure, navigating these classrooms might be a bit awkward for us grownups (and make us feel like giants in a land of dwarves), but this setup actually has tons of benefits for the kiddos.
- Health and Safety! When children can easily get items themselves, there are fewer dangerous climbing expeditions to reach high shelves or cupboards.
- Empowerment! Kid-size classrooms build confidence! That’s because they have the ability to do things for themselves without asking for help. In other words, they’re like independent explorers who feel safe to discover their surroundings.
- Less Frustration! Not having to ask for help for, say, grabbing the cookies on the counter (or worse, devising a MacGyver-ish fix by upending the laundry basket and standing on it to reach the counter) can save kids a lot of irritation.
With all those benefits, there’s no reason to not try implementing them at home, too! Here’s a few ideas for supporting your preschooler while he catches up to grown-up living:
- Get down to his eye level. This makes him feel valued and listened to—plus, it’s less intimidating when you’re not looming over him.
- Create storage areas for her things that she can easily reach. Being able to retrieve and put away her toys, clothes, or other items gives her a sense of independence and accomplishment.
- Display his artwork/projects where he can see. Just like you might feel a sense of pride every time you see your diploma on the wall, he loves seeing his own accomplishments displayed!
- Look at each room from your child’s height. What’s down there that might not be safe? You may be surprised at how many accidents you can prevent just from taking her vantage point.