Monday, August 24, 2015

Planning the Classroom Environment

There are some many things to consider when you think about setting up a preschool classroom.  It can be very overwhelming!  I've found that it helps to break that job into a number of small(ish) tasks.

1. Think about your activity centers.  Some centers need specific furniture - a writing center has to be near a table, and a classroom library needs a place to store books.  Other centers work best in specific areas of the classroom - you might want to keep your art center near the tile floor.

2.  Arrange the furniture.  This is my favorite part, I can look at a piece of furniture and know exactly where it will fit.  If you aren't quite as comfortable moving your furniture then draw a picture or two first, and remember, if it doesn't work out you can always keep moving things until it all fits.

3. Add materials to one activity center at a time. Focusing on one small space makes the job feel much easier.  When you work in just one center at a time you can make sure that all of your baskets and bins match and that the materials are easily accessible.  when you feel comfortable with one center, then move on to the next.

4.  Pay attention to the large group areas.  Spend a little extra time in the spaces that your entire class will use together.  Is there enough room for all of your students on your circle time rug? When children are sitting at the lunch tables will there be enough room to walk between the chairs?  These details can be the difference between a classroom that works and one that doesn't.

5.  Make it homey.  Use accessories to make the classroom aesthetically pleasing.  Add attractive pillows to the reading area, use picture frames to hold posters and class photos.  Fill a vase with flowers, or a bowl with decorative globes.  These touches make the classroom cozy and help children feel at home.

6.  Plan space to display student work.  You might not have any to put up just yet, but you will soon! Where will you put it all, and how will you make sure that your students know their work is special?

7.  Now that the physical pieces of the classroom are in place, think about your systems.  Plan for how children will use the bathroom, how you will have snack,  where you will post messages for parents?  These systems are all an important piece of your classroom environment.

Don't feel overwhelmed! Yes, it is a lot to do, but if you break it down into these steps and only let yourself focus on one piece at a time you will feel less stressed while completing this big job.

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