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Creating Developmentally Appropriate Spaces to Encourage Communication

As we continue to develop and enhance our practice, in line with the revised EYFS, it is an honour to have Elizabeth Jarman as my guest blogger. Image

Elizabeth is an internationally recognised education professional who specialises in creating optimum conditions for learning. She is an award winning author. Her work is widely respected and professionally challenges the way that learning environments for children and families are considered.


Elizabeth writes:

“When reviewing your environment and the way that it supports your underpinning pedagogy1, pay attention to your children’s stages of development. Create developmentally appropriate spaces that acknowledge where they are at. Here are some ideas to inspire your thinking and help you to audit your context. Consider:

Spaces for one: Children can be egocentric and can’t cope with sharing at first. There are times when even the most mature child needs space and time alone.

Make it OK to be by yourself; a space where adults won’t fit, giving children control and choice.

Acknowledge that time spent alone supports thinking, rehearsing and recharging.


 Dual dialogue: Parallel play is a significant stage. You will observe children playing alongside one another but still needing their own defined space and resources.

Considered positioning, purposefully placed to promote interaction and conversation.

Calm colours enhance the intention of this space.


 A shared space: Allowing someone else to join you is a key stage. This requires consideration of others and communication.

A space big enough for two or three encourages small group interaction.

This space sets the scene for open ended, child-led play.

Children will add their own resources, making connections to things that are important to them.

The screening allows those inside to see out, helping to make it feel like a safe space.


A space for a group: The complex dynamics of being in a group can be challenging for some children. Notice their different behaviours and communication styles when children are one of many, in a space where they have to share.

A carefully positioned outside space, away from the main movement and noise sets the scene for larger group interaction.

Joining in conversations can be enhanced by feeling a sense of privacy created by the screening.

Being comfortable in a space where you are expected to sit still is important. Add softness and texture.


1 Pedagogy is your ‘teaching’ style

©ELIZABETH JARMAN® Images are not to be reproduced

For more information about Elizabeth Jarman’s work and Communication Friendly Spaces™ see:


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  • debbie thelwell

    Hi Laura
    My EYP and I went to one of Elizebeths sessions and we were truly inspired, we have used her tool kit to provide community friendly spaces within our setting. We have changed our colour schemes, decluttered and made cosy spaces for children. A very positive and benifical experience for children, parents and staff.
    Debbie Thelwell
    Little Angels

  • psw260259

    Elizabeth has some really good ideas – many of which are suitable for both large group and small childminder settings.

    I have attended one of Elizabeth’s sessions – several years ago – and then ‘bumped’ into her at the station on the way home, where I and my colleague shared a coffee and chat with Elizabeth. As a result of this chance meeting Elizabeth gave me permission to based some training that I was writing for childminders on her presentation – and she personally checked the finished presentation and gave her approval.

    A lovely lady and a honour to have met her and to share ideas.

    I would recommend that those not familiar with Elizabeth’s work – take a closer look – inspirational and something for everyone

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