?The learning environment in the preschool classroom
?Absorbing a host of impressions through his senses is almost the exclusive task of the infant… Often the whole life of a person is not sufficient to efface the impressions absorbed in childhood, because his whole being, like a large eye, was open and wholly given to them. For this reason the care of an infant is so important.”
?– Friedrich Froebel,
?Educator, founder of the Kindergarten
?Setting up the Environment
?Children spend long hours in early childhood programs. Preschool teacher need to assure that classroom environments are a live learning environment.
?Young children’s understanding and learning happens as they explore, investigate and discuss concepts, while they move freely through a well planed classroom environment.
?Environments need to be
? A welcoming place
? A great place to be
?A place for learning
?A place of beauty
? A creative environment that is designed for hands on experiences
? A place to be a child
?The arrangement of a preschool classroom is essential in providing a safe environment for young children to explore and learn.
?The layout must meet both the teacher's and children's needs.
? Among the things to consider when planning a preschool classroom are visibility, safety, active and quiet areas, small and large group areas, traffic patterns and storage
?When arranging furniture, keep in mind that each child must be within sight and sound of the teacher at all times.
? Position tall shelves and cubbies against the wall, making sure they are secured into the wall to avoid falling.
?Use short shelves as dividers between sections and learning centers so the teacher can view the children.
?These dividers can be used to store toys and materials within a child's reach.
Safety and Storage
?All classroom equipment and materials need to be in good working order, nontoxic and with no sharp edges.
?Tables and chairs should be at the children's height so they can get in and out of them easily.
? Carpets need to be taped down to avoid falls.
? Outlets must have safety caps installed.
? Cleaning and toxic chemicals must be inside a locked upper cabinet.
? Upper shelves and cabinets are appropriate for storage of art materials and extra toys because they are above the temptation of little hands.
Small and Large Group Activities
?Arrange the classroom to accommodate space for large- and small-group activities.
?Large-group activities include circle time, reading books and music and movement.
? Give each child a specific spot in a large-group activity, making use of carpet squares or pillows.
? Small groups are used for teacher-directed activities, such as math concepts, science and language development, with six or fewer preschoolers.
? A useful area is a special table or a place on the carpet where the teacher can work with a small group and still view the rest of the class playing or working in centers.
?Adults admire their environment; they can remember it and think about it—but a child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.”
?– Maria Montessori
?Educator, physician, philosopher
?An effective traffic pattern allows children to walk from one area of the classroom to another without disturbing the other children.
?Set up learning centers with walking paths around them.
? Do not leave a straight path where children are tempted to run through.
? Teachers can visualize traffic patterns for a preschool classroom if they get down on their knees to view the room at the child's level.
Active and Quiet Areas
?Providing both areas will allow children to choose the type of activity he or she is interested in and balance the preschool school day.
?Quiet activities include reading books, listening to tapes and writing.
? Set up a cozy area with soft pillows, a small table with chairs and the materials at the child's reach.
? On the other hand, active centers involve block play, music and movement, dramatic center play and exploring sensory materials. This area can get loud and distracting
?Make sure active and quiet areas are on opposite sides of the room
?Interest Areas/Learning Centers
?Interest Areas or "Learning Centers" are specific places in a preschool room's physical environment where specific activities can be arranged for the children to explore.
?"A classroom for young children benefits from having clearly defined, well-equipped interest areas that arranged to promote independence, foster decision making, and encourage involvement."
?Learning Center Presentation -
? small group, create and present a learning center that could be developed in an early childhood classroom. The presentation must include four parts:
?A diagram of a classroom indicating the location of the learning center
?A three-dimensional miniature model of the center itself indicating storage, equipment and materials
?A kit of actual (not miniature) materials for one activity to be included in the center, and
?An oral and written discussion of the values of this particular center and activity must be included in the presentation.