Summer is winding down, and every teacher has plans in the works as they look forward to the new school year. Whether you work in a public school, private school, or a child care facility, it’s time to make some plans to get your classrooms ready!
While we focus on the all-important interpersonal interactions that build relationships with our children, we need to think carefully and intentionally about how the classroom setup allows us the time to interact. We need to plan our days so that our kids have consistency, know the routine, and feel free to explore their curiosities.
Let’s take a look at a few things to consider. Remember, your classroom sends a message to children.
A child wants to know: “Do I belong here?” “Am I safe here?” “Is it okay to ask for help?” “Is this a place where my concerns and needs are noted and responded to?” “Will there be fun things to do?” “Will I make friends?”
A classroom that has inviting spaces, interesting and accessible materials, and provides TIME to explore sets the stage for all those wonderful teachable moments that make our day! A classroom that has a predictable flow, a warm and nurturing place where a child can choose how and where they play, or maybe has a place to find some quiet space does much to create opportunities to connect with their classmates and their teacher.
I've compiled a quick classroom setup checklist you can use while arranging your classroom this fall. If you need examples of classroom setups or materials you can use to promote different types of skills, the Teachstone Pinterest boards are a great resource to browse through.
If you need help planning your classroom setup, check out our webinar, Ready for School? Setting Up Your Classroom for Success. We discuss how the classroom materials teachers select, the setup of a classroom, and a daily classroom schedule work together to provide a foundation for great instruction that promotes social and academic outcomes for children.
In construction, a scaffold is a temporary structure used by workers to access heights and areas that are hard to get to. This is exactly what educators are doing when they scaffold for students. A student is having a hard time reaching a new height—understanding a concept, answering a question, or completing an activity—and the teacher provides just enough support to allow the student to succeed.
Children love playing shadow tag, catching and stepping on each other’s shadows. We teachers need to keep an eye on our shadows too ... metaphorically speaking, that is. We’re big in children’s eyes, and we have a lot of power over how they spend their day. If we slip into taking over their explorations and answering our own questions, we subtly let children know that their ideas and interests aren’t as important as ours. But if we want our children to develop independence and feel engaged in our classroom, then we have to show we value their ideas and support their independence.
You’ve heard it said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I would propose this addition: “Except in teaching!” Of course, we know the first moments of the first day of school are critical to establishing a tone for the year ahead, and we put a lot of energy into those first moments. It’s always fun to prepare our classrooms for the new school year because we are full of renewed hopes and dreams.