Offer a whirlpool of ideas and materials that spark the continual ingenuity of young minds, and more focus and organization will ensue. Kids in a healthy, supportive environment certainly do not move at a snails pace and as educators or parents we’re constantly challenged to conjure up interesting and engaging projects for them to channel their intentions and energy.
Classroom management in early childhood education begins with organized curriculum. A classroom that has a myriad of materials for young hands to help themselves, complimented by teachers that consciously follow their various needs and emerging interests, will optimize greater opportunities for learning.
One of the main aims of managing a successful classroom, comes with how well materials are presented – are accessible to teachers and students – can be quickly found with the deep layers of a teachers closet – appeal to the interests of the kids – and are developmentally appropriate, however still challenging and fun.
For example, my cohort and I in the classroom have noticed children who are partial to animal figures and are generally attracted by this fantasy play. Aware of this we decided to introduce a whole herd of animals, play trees, artificial greenery and set them up on our loft area, like a pseudo safari.
More recently, several boys and girls have taken more of an interest to playing with dolls, dressing them and carrying them in a warm sun in the play yard. Again, as teachers we decided to include stethoscopes and other medical equipment they may be entice further nurturing through socio-dramatic play.
Our jobs as educators are to pay attention to how materials are being used and to decide at one point to swap out or to present something different. Materials should always be within kid reach along shelves for practicing self-help skills, while projects themes can be presented and set-up at various tables through out the day, and later tucked away for another day. Setting up and displaying supplies for a specific project in an orderly, yet fashionable way will also tempt many little hands. A good rule of thumb is to be creative and think about how you your self would first like to be introduced to a new project.
Materials are to be used interchangeable. Preschoolers are absolutely content and thrive on diversification of materials, however they do have their favorites. And this is the simplicity of applying what educators commonly refer to as an emergent-based curriculum. There is no right or wrong way, this approach to curricula is provided on the individual and group related interests of the classroom, as each day is different.
Another good rule of thumb is to keep track of what activities or curriculum is being provided, how it is being used, who generally uses what, and at times demonstrate some appropriate ways materials can be used, while being careful not encourage any modeling, which may limit their own exploration into the project.
Our classroom layout by subject theme (i.e. art, kitchen center, dress-up, science, writing, math, etc.) is constantly changing, our shelves full of materials and stationary supplies are also weekly being recycled or restocked.
Curriculum emerges from self-directed and cooperative experiences in the classroom – a young person may short objects by color, shape, or texture, stamp alphabet letters onto paper, count beads while threading a necklace, or finding ways to balance a tower of blocks, all of these are organized acts. It was John Dewey, who advocated learning as a deeply rooted function; it is not an activity representative of a standard presented in a closed system of school. Play is then a fact of life; it is crucial to the full development. Dewey would argue for “the continuum of experience,” not for instruction, but where the educator is an intricate part of providing the resource for these diverse experiences to unfold. And the most effective way for continuum of diverse experiences to unravel is through a series of proactive steps towards an organized classroom. This is how we can best manage the classroom, while we entrust the kids take full control over their own learning.
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