Tag Archives: classroom decoration

Back to School…Am I Ready?

back-to-schoolLots of families are ready to get back into a routine and send children back to school in the month of August. Some of the children are excited and ready, but are you? It’s a time of year when no matter how old you are, the time is ripe for a fresh start. An early childhood program may follow a school year format where a new cycle of lessons start. You may have new families and children beginning in your program for the first time. Some children may be transitioning into a new classroom.

This time of year is the perfect opportunity to recharge and refresh your early childhood classroom. I’ve expanded some of the tips I found in a blog for elementary school teachers to apply to early childhood programs:

Be Organized. Having your ducks in a row is good for you and good for your students. Making sure that everything and everyone has a place helps the flow of the day go smoothly. Prepping materials ahead of time for the sorting, storage, display, and accessibility will also help children get to the tasks and work they have to do with ease. Move some furniture if you have to! Everyone will be happy.

Manage the Classroom. Your room can look awesome with every bit of organized labeling and decor. If you do not have a positive behavior management plan ready, it may be a rough start to the school year. Every student, class, and room is different. Children spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year learning the rules of the classroom. Just make sure you have a plan and stick to it to ensure that you, the kids, and parents know how things will go.

Develop Family Relationships. Making kind and welcoming connections with parents from day one will not only benefit the children in your care, but yourself!  It builds trust between you and the parent when you make yourself accessible and available to discuss things about the year in a positive way.

Know the Community. Making relationships in the community benefits everyone in your program. Inviting community to be guest speakers, meeting people from organizations that can help families in need, and creating classroom projects to help the community are all great examples of how building those relationships can be a good thing for all!

Involve the Students in Planning! I have said it before in previous blogs… Taking time to listen to the children in your care and let them help you plan activities for how they want to learn something will make it a fun school year! Building on the children’s interests is always a good idea to keep them wanting to come to your program.

With the start date getting closer and closer each day, keeping these strategies in mind will help pave the way for a great year for both you and the children in your program.

How to foster learning using the walls of your classroom

Quick…what color is the ceiling? Did you have to peek? It’s ok if you did, I did too. It’s not something we look at on a regular basis because it’s not at our eye level. Did you know that grocery stores often put the lower-priced items on the top and bottom shelves, and the higher-priced items at our eye level? Now, imagine yourself as a child in a classroom, maybe your own classroom. What is at your level and what is high above your head? Where are the pictures you’ve drawn and the stories you’ve written? Where are the classroom guidelines and schedule posted?

How you set up your classroom space matters!

When you set up your classroom environment, you should take a page from the supermarkets. Put what you want the children to see at their eye level. This includes their artwork, pictures from projects and field trips or the class pet. Whatever you display, it should be purposeful; try not to put up maps of the United States or posters of shapes and colors if you won’t use them as teaching tools. In an article for NAEYC  by Patricia Tarr, she states that “the challenge for early childhood educators is to think beyond decorating to consider how walls can be used effectively as part of an educational environment.” I was observing a staff recently who guided the children through a display depicting  flower growth by comparing it to actual flowers they had in the classroom. It gave purpose to the display and made it a more concrete experience.

Teachers should also display classroom guidelines and schedule at the children’s eye level. Try to limit the number of guidelines to 3-5, phrase your expectations simply and with positive language (replace “no running” with “walking feet” or “do not talk back” with “listen to the teacher”) and accompany them with pictures. If you can get pictures of the children in your classroom doing those things, even better! Depending on the age of the children in your classroom, the schedule you post may be pictorial or it could use words. Children thrive when they know what to expect.

Here are some questions from Patricia Tarr’s article to help you reflect on your environment:

-How can the walls reflect the lives, families, cultures and interests of the learners within?

-Do the posters invite participation and active involvement or passive reception of information?

-What are the assumptions about how children learn and how are these reflected by the classroom walls?

-What is the atmosphere of the classroom? How do the materials on display contribute to the atmosphere?

I’d love to hear about displays you’ve done in your classroom and the children’s responses. Please share in the comments!