School — An enriched environment

Children spend a predominant amount of time during their early to mid-teen years in schools, a place that educates them and prepares them for the real world. Apart from this, schools ought to provide environments that are stimulating and dynamic for the development of an individual. A fundamental requirement is that it should encourage creative problem solving, without being imposing. Thus, an environment that induces curiosity-driven explorations are highly recommended during the early years and schools can become platforms to implement such conditions.

Unfortunately, in the current times, schools emphasize procuring good grades rather than the holistic development of an individual. In this, a predominant aspect is the regulation of emotions. Given the brain’s neuroplastic nature, regulation of emotion in the brain can be achieved in an enriched environment. Schools must provide an ideal environment where they learn and understand emotions and how to regulate them. An enriched environment is one where complexity, novelty in the environment induces plastic changes in the brain. This can be efficiently harnessed as a means to facilitate the regulation of emotion.

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School systems must be designed such that it provides a stimulating environment for motor, cognitive, sensory, and social enrichment. The traditional curriculum should be replaced with engaging activities that make students come up with creative solutions, participate in games that enhance sensory-motor coordination, and most importantly give them the choice to explore and learn. The classrooms must be designed in a stimulating manner, with the usage of different colors and novel objects. The classroom settings must be regularly modified to maintain the element of novelty. Students must be encouraged to explore and express their work in any form. This gives them a sense of agency in choosing the way they wish to learn. Classrooms must become places for group activities, where the exchange of ideas drives curiosity and learning. Special settings, focusing on cognitive enrichment, must be designed for children with learning difficulties. Enriched environments primarily promote learning and memory. Hence, with the right kind of stimulating environments, such children can be benefitted.

Taking into account all these factors, schools and teaching methodology should provide enrichment in physical, cognitive as well as social domain. Such an environment is crucial for the appropriate development of an individual during the early years.