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Environment as Third Teacher


NOCAC Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) staff will ensure the classroom is set up and designed to support and encourage: building relationship, open communication and children’s exploration to expand their development by creating an atmosphere that promotes the children’s creative exploration inside and outside.


  1. Provide materials in the classroom for the children to be able to explore on their own or with other children or staff.
  2. Classrooms should be open and inviting where areas that may have common materials can be easily incorporated with each other.  The environment should promote creativity, thinking and problem solving skills, questioning, experimentation and open-ended play.
  3. Use natural furnishings that reflect the children’s home life and real-life interactions with others.  Have more natural materials in the classroom, for example, plants, animals and more natural light.
  4. Have materials out in the classroom in a mindful presentation that promotes children’s curiosity and exploration.
  5. Child interests and knowledge should be promoted by having materials out.

Forms and Additional Guidance:

This policy complies with the following

Head Start Program Performance Standard:   1302.31(c)
ODJFS Child Care Manual:    
CACFP Regulation:    
Caring for Our Children:    
Other Sources:    


Effective Date:   1/6/20 Reviewed Date:   8/23/22
Approved By Policy Council:     Revision Approved By Policy Council:    
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