EYFS blog post 2: What is an enabling environment and why are they important?

1. What is an enabling environment?

An enabling environment is one which provides a rich, varied and safe space in a setting in which children can play, explore and learn. This can contribute greatly to children’s learning and development in the early years.

The environment should be child-centered. It is important that practitioners value and encourage independence and that they understand how individual children learn best.

Enabling environments can be split into three important factors:

  • The Emotional Environment – the atmosphere of a setting and how it feels.
  • The Indoor Environment – the resources available in the indoor space, how they are accessed and how activities are led.
  • The Outdoor Environment – the resources available in the outdoor space, how they are accessed and how activities are led.

2. Why are enabling environments important in early years?

An enabling environment plays a key role in supporting children’s learning and development across all seven areas of the EYFS.

It is well recognised that children learn and develop best in caring, supportive environments which respond to their individual needs.

An enabling environment ensures that children grow and develop to be ‘resilient, capable, confident and self-assured’.

The environment in which a child plays and learns has always been an important factor to consider when thinking about children’s development, and much research takes place around this very subject. Giving children the physical and mental space in which to enable learning in a safe environment is key to their growth.