2022 Edition

Early Childhood Education (CA-ECE) 6: Classroom Environment

Child care is provided in an enriched, interactive environment that is well-suited to meeting the developmental needs of children.




Early Childhood Education facilitates appropriate child development and ensures the health and safety of children in care.
Note: Please see the Facility Observation Checklist for additional guidance on this standard.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Policy governing the use of infant cribs, walkers, jumpers, and swings
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
  • Observe facility


CA-ECE 6.01

The environment supports positive development and education by providing:
  1. dedicated spaces, separated by low barriers, to accommodate a range of developmentally-appropriate activities including group and individual play, and active and quiet play;
  2. an organized classroom that allows for safe movement throughout the space;
  3. flexible space that is easily updated to meet changing skills and interests of the group;
  4. sturdy, appropriate furniture designed to accommodate the age range of children in the classroom and appropriately installed, when applicable, to prevent tipping;
  5. furniture that allows for adults to comfortably hold children, where appropriate; and
  6. individual places for children to store their belongings.
Examples: Appropriate furniture can include consideration of the furniture’s size, weight, durability, construction, and material. For example, chairs should be short enough that children can sit in them without having to climb, risking injury from the chair tipping.


CA-ECE 6.02

The physical facilities, buildings, and grounds of child care centres include:
  1. 7 square metres of outdoor space per child, based on the number of children outside at one time;
  2. outdoor areas enclosed by fences;
  3. outdoor areas and equipment that support a variety of play activities such as climbing, group activities, building, and exploring the natural environment;
  4. outdoor play areas that have shade;
  5. 3 square metres of unencumbered indoor space per child;
  6. separate lavatories customized for adults and children;
  7. drinking water available at all times and in all indoor and outdoor play spaces;
  8. quiet and private indoor areas for parents and staff; and
  9. a reception area where all visitors must sign-in and out.


Child care programs located in urban areas with limited outdoor space can accommodate children’s needs for both active and outdoor play by offering larger indoor spaces such as gyms for active play and by taking children to local parks. Additionally a child’s need for outdoor space will vary given his or her age and mobility level. For example, a group of infants would require less square metres of outdoor space than a group of 3-year-olds.


Unencumbered indoor space is defined as usable activity space for children. Closed storage areas, indoor space reserved for staff, reception areas, etc. should not be included when determining the amount of unencumbered indoor space available.
Examples: Quiet and private indoor areas can include areas for parents to breast or bottle feed their children, space for staff to take breaks away from the children, office space, and private areas for parent interviews.


CA-ECE 6.03

Toys and other materials are chosen:
  1. based on the ages, abilities, and interests of children;
  2. to sustain interest and support emerging skills;
  3. to reflect differences in gender, ethnicity, cultural background, age, and special needs without promoting stereotypical images; and
  4. to stimulate development in curriculum content areas.
Examples: Books, toys, and room décor are some of the ways that diversity can be incorporated into the classroom. 

Examples: The exact toys and materials selected for the classroom will vary based on the above criteria. 

Examples of age-appropriate materials for infant classrooms include:
  1. comfortable carpet or stiff blanket;
  2. shatter-proof mirrors;
  3. balls;
  4. washable plush toys;
  5. toys that make noise when shaken or squeezed;
  6. chunky toys that the child can look at, reach for, clutch, and mouth;
  7. board books;
  8. a method for playing music; and
  9. toys that allow for manipulation such as turning or inserting.
Examples of age-appropriate materials for toddler classrooms include:
  1. art materials appropriate to their developmental level, including large crayons, markers, and large paper;
  2. containers that can be filled and emptied, including household items such as measuring cups or unbreakable bowls;
  3. sturdy picture books;
  4. a method for playing music;
  5. items that can be pushed, pulled, or ridden; and
  6. sensory objects such as sand, dough, and water.
Examples of age-appropriate materials for pre-school classrooms include:
  1. blocks;
  2. books;
  3. writing materials;
  4. math related games or toys such as items to be counted;
  5. a method for playing music;
  6. age-appropriate instruments;
  7. items for scientific investigation such as a magnifying glass;
  8. items to be used in imaginary play such as props or costumes; and
  9. sensory play items such as modelling clay, sand, or water.
Note: See CA-ECE 8.01 and CA-ECE 8.04 for more information on how toys should be chosen based on curriculum content and ongoing assessments.


CA-ECE 6.04

Toys and other materials are arranged in a logical way that:
  1. allows children access without help; and
  2. encourages appropriate use while still allowing for creativity and exploration.
Examples: Storing crayons with other art supplies, blank paper, and coloring books rather than on the shelf next to books meant for reading can encourage children to use crayons for their intended purpose and discourage writing in books.

Fundamental Practice

CA-ECE 6.05

The least restrictive environment for infants is chosen at all times including:
  1. using cribs only for sleeping;
  2. limiting the use of infant swings, jumpers, and bouncers; and
  3. prohibiting infant walkers.
NA The organization does not provide infant care.