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Blog Topic: Classroom Design

Infant room

What is Quality?

Posted by: Rhonda March 29, 2016

Imagine the ideal infant room. Natural light streams through the windows. Different shapes and sizes of furniture provide an intriguing, richly textured world to explore. A large, open area invites large motor play. Soft, cozy spaces to sit or snuggle are scattered throughout the room. There is a sense of security, engagement, and active learning. It is a room filled with frequent and warm interactions. Parents are clearly welcome as well; you can feel their presence through photographs and clearly displayed information.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to find infant programs with all these characteristics. In fact, as Jim Greenman boldly writes, “probably fewer than one in ten centers are truly good places for babies.”  

“Quality does not come easily or inexpensively. Quality care for babies is not brandishing an infant curriculum or infant stimulation. It is not spic and span tile and formica, or attractive lofts, or a bump-free environment, or even low ratios and smiley, warm people.”

Then what does determine quality? Read more

Sample Classroom

Setting Up Your Classroom

Posted by: Rhonda September 1, 2015

One of the most valuable parts of your classroom is the actual space itself—there never seems to be enough room! Like time, space is a limited commodity and must be used thoughtfully.

The ideal classroom is an empty shell filled with movable furniture. Built-in features severely restrict flexible room arrangements and the opportunity for future changes and improvements. When you utilize movable storage shelves and room dividers you can create an environment that can respond to enrollment changes, changes in the children’s interest, or the varying needs of different groups.

However, anyone who has tried to arrange or rearrange their classroom knows what a headache that can be! Finding the right place for everything is a challenging puzzle. To support this process we have created an array of sample classrooms with varying furniture arrangements. Whether or not they fit your exact situation, they will surely provide inspiration! View them here.

Yes

Creating a "Yes" Environment

Posted by: Rhonda April 7, 2015

Children love to push at boundaries. They want to know where you draw the lines, what you expect of them, and how you respond to daily occurrences.

Think how many times each day you have to tell a child, “no”. Are there some days when you feel like a police officer, constantly monitoring and redirecting traffic? This can be extremely stressful and exhausting for both you and the children.

How can we turn our classrooms into “yes” environments? This doesn’t mean that teachers allow the children to do whatever they want. It means that routines and expectations are age-appropriate. It means that the boundaries are clear and make sense. The teacher is free of “managing” students and instead can focus on being a facilitator of the children’s play and learning.

In this article, Teresa Gonsoski outlines the four important qualities to consider in transforming your classroom into a “yes” environment. If it means less stress for every person in the classroom, the journey is worth it! Read on.

PreK Activity Areas

Inviting Learning

Posted by: Rhonda March 17, 2015

Learning doesn’t happen sitting down—at least not when you’re four years old! The preschool years should be ones of active, hands-on discovery and exploration. This requires a stimulating environment that offers choices to children, invites them to engage in a number of activities, and encourages them to explore a wide range of materials.

In Maria Montessori’s philosophy, everything in a prepared environment should facilitate independent learning and exploration. The preschools of Reggio-Emilia refer to a well-designed environment as the “third teacher” in the classroom. Froebel maintained that when care is applied to a child’s surroundings, behavior can be guided and inspired. The simplest of spaces can become a haven for play and learning.

It takes thoughtful planning to design an environment that is calm and well-ordered, yet at the same time full of activity and movement.  Take a look at these sample activity areas. The careful selection and arrangements of furnishings is an essential step in creating an environment that invites learning. 

artwork

Lessons from the Bowerbird

Posted by: Rhonda February 17, 2015

This is an invitation to think beyond the ordinary. Think beyond the pictures in the early childhood catalog. Think beyond the room next door. Think like a bowerbird.

Although an unlikely role model for teachers, this small native of the South Pacific may have a lot to teach us about intentional, creative, classroom décor.  With painstaking precision, the male bowerbird selects and places beautiful objects in his nest, or bower, much like a museum curator carefully selecting artwork. His one aim is to send a message to the female bowerbird: You are important.

Just like the bowerbird, be finicky about what is in your classroom habitat—especially what is posted on your walls. Too many commercially purchased charts and laminated posters are sometimes nothing more than visual noise. They may even convey indifference or boredom if they are indefinitely displayed. Replace these with authentic and child-created artwork that is purposefully and respectfully placed on the walls. Tell your children: You are important. Read on.