There are two kinds of light we receive lots of questions about here at the RICCELFF. Natural light and artificial light. With both types of lighting there are three basic areas to consider; the first is the overall quality of the light and what it adds to your environment and the children’s overall daily experience, the second is how the light contributes to or detracts from health and safety in the environment and the third is whether the lighting is consistent with Rhode Island’s specific quality and regulatory standards. Natural light when used well can soften the environment, can save on energy costs and ideally provides opportunities for children to see outside throughout the day. While Rhode Island’s regulations allow for very minimal natural light such as that can be achieved through skylights, solar tubes or shared light from adjacent spaces, this does not truly promote quality and best practice which would include allowing children to watch outside, see beyond their four walls, experience changes in weather, time of day and change of season, etc. Artificial light is regulated only at the top, Department of Education preschool approval level and the requirement is for a very high level of artificial lighting such as that which would be needed for concentrated reading or studying or to ensure cleanliness of the classroom. However, a quality environment can be significantly enhanced with the careful planning of artificial light. This might include adding such things as dimmers that allow you to adjust light levels, multiple switches that allow you to have some lights on and other off and different types of lighting so that all lighting does not come only from harsh, overhead fluorescent lights. Lighting is a complex topic. We encourage you to visit our resource library to learn more!
Please review our RICCELFF Fast Facts sheet on adding natural lighting for more information on this subject. We’d also love to hear from others who have figured out creative ways to add additional light to a space.
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LISC Rhode Island Child Care & Early Learning Facilities Fund