1. Organize your room strategically
A preschool classroom can be quite chaotic, so the way you organize is important in that it can help ensure that effective learning is happening wherever children are stationed.
. For example, the blocks and other activities should be on the opposite side of the room from the reading center.
“There should be clearly demarcated areas in the room—like reading, timeout, play, food—and rules surrounding those areas. If the ‘boundaries’ of each space are clear, it facilitates the relationships in the room.
2. Emanate comfort and reassurance
There is a physical environment in each classroom, but perhaps on an even more important note—there’s the atmosphere you create by your tone and demeanor. Children are often very perceptive of attitude towards them. “Teachers should be warm and caring toward children who are acting upset,”
“Every child is different, but with some children, all they really need is a warm hug to calm down.” If you make yourself open to your students, they might be able to communicate why they are upset and help you solve the issue.
3. Give them tools to express their feelings
Little ones don’t always know how to manage their emotions or communicate their feelings. When a child gets upset, answering a question like ‘what’s wrong?’ can be difficult. But children don’t necessarily need to communicate why they are upset if they can express their emotions creatively.
Teachers should offer children options of song, art, movement in a quiet space set apart from the group. “Then they should be allowed to manage their feelings either by waiting in the ‘safe’ place until they are able to participate, or by having their feelings and being with the group anyway. Teachers can offer gentle assistance if students do not know how to manage their feelings, with the goal of continuing the flow of the day.”
4. Make a plan for transitions
There will be several times throughout the day when children are transitioning from one activity or area of the room to another. It’s important to have a plan for these transitions.
Using a countdown as part of your plan so children are ready to move on when the time comes. Announcing that you’re going to countdown from 10 to one before moving on to the next activity will help children feel prepared for the transition.
5. Follow the kids from time to time
Speaking of being diverted, there are times to put the plan aside when you can tell it would be beneficial for your students.
“One time I found that all my students had abandoned my circle and had gotten interested in playing under the table. So I got under the table with them. That’s where we continued class.”
Whether it’s teaching under a table, moving free time around or focusing on something the kids are particularly interested in that day, being flexible and matching their natural interests can make the day more interesting and exciting for them.
6. Use child-friendly labels
Keeping your room organized shouldn’t entirely fall on your shoulders. Empower your students to pick up after themselves and take responsibility for their own messes.
Harvey uses labeled plastic bins to organize classroom supplies and toys. She labels the bins with pictures of each object and labels the shelf where the bin is stored with the same picture. She says this not only helps children put things away properly and teaches responsibility, but also helps hone their matching skills.
7. Refer to the routine
Consistency is important for everyone, but especially for children. If your preschoolers know their routine, they begin to have an innate sense of accountability to follow it. Even something as simple as writing the day’s schedule on the board or making pictures to represent activities can help children anticipate the routine and feel more comfortable.
8. Create integrated learning environments
“A developmentally appropriate environment for a toddler or preschooler takes a holistic approach, Dedicating spaces to auditory, visual and social/emotional development areas will help toddlers make connections between their experiences and the world around them.
Integrated learning environments have individual learning centers or stations which allow children to safely explore and play, Malson explains. “At this age, it’s important to keep learning centers simple so children are not overwhelmed.” For example, toddlers can enjoy a literacy corner with a comfy chair and a few books.
9. Balance ‘active’ & ‘passive’ activities
Certain activities will get your students’ pumped up and giddy with excitement, and others will help them mellow and calm down. Finding a balance and switching between the two. Trying to keep kids silent when they are bubbling over with energy will be far less productive than giving them an activity to blow off some steam.
The manner in which you organize your activities can make all of the difference in keeping your kids engaged and avoiding meltdowns.
10. Tackle ongoing issues with creativity
Most little ones will have grumpy days. But you might start to notice patterns in your classroom that represent an ongoing struggle for specific students. That’s when it’s time to take a step back and analyze the situation.
11. Enjoy your job!
Kids are naturally intuitive and tend to follow the lead of those they’re around. If they see you enjoying the teaching process, think of how much more likely they are to enjoy the learning process.
Teaching preschool can be full of laughter and little delights, and when children see you having fun and making the day bright, it will help them come along for the ride. While not every day is going to be sunshine and rainbows for you, putting on a good front and approaching the day with enthusiasm can lead to a positive feedback loop that might just make your day a little brighter.
(This article/text/quote/image is shared in good spirit to strengthen the education system.)