Environments that Promote Learning
There is no one way to arrange a classroom. Room arrangement will differ according to the ages and previous experiences of the students, the background knowledge of the teachers, and their willingness to experiment with new ideas. The goal is to create an environment for students that will nurture their explorations, language, and ideas. In planning their room environment, teachers should act on what they know about children and their development.
Messages in the Environment
The types of materials in a classroom and the way in which they are organized convey important messages to students. A room that is attractive, cheerful, orderly, and filled with interesting objects conveys the message: “This is a comfortable place where you can explore, feel safe, and learn.” Teachers who are aware of the power of the environment are able to arrange indoor and outdoor spaces to convey the messages they want students to receive. Listed below are specific suggestions for conveying positive messages through your environment.
This Is a Good Place to Be:
· Neutral colors (gray, off-white, beige) are used on walls, and bright colors are used selectively to highlight interest areas or mark storage areas on shelves.
· Furniture is clean and well maintained
· Wall decorations are largely made up of students’ work and are displayed attractively at their eye level and with large spaces of blank wall so that children are not overwhelmed.
Keep in mind that:
- The classroom layout needs to work for both the teacher and the learners.
- Overcrowded centers can result in behavior issues.
- Pre-planning on the part of the teacher can alleviate overcrowded centers.
We need to plan for various types of spaces for groups, such as rugs and tables, that:
- Provide space for work
- Promote student-to-student interaction in small groups
- Create small well-defined, student-friendly/cozy spaces that encourage interactions.
These small, well-defined spaces will assist with learning that:
- is more creative and encourage behaviors that are productive;
- highlights individual concepts such as Science or Writing; and
- incorporates language and literacy development within each space.
The domino effect on behavior will demonstrate:
- more cooperation between students;
- more on-task behavior; and
- fewer behavior problems
Other Considerations When Planning the Preschool Environment
- Traffic patterns (from one center to another) facilitate easy movement for the students.
- The centers are visually appealing.
- Similar centers are located near each other. For example, the library center is next to the listening center.
- The spaces of the classroom may be used flexibly to allow additional staff members to work with students as needed.
- Classroom supports, for example, electricity for the listening center, and a sink near the Art center, are accessible.
- Consider having a teacher pair up with you to observe the structures set up in your classroom. Meet and reflect on the results. Plan any changes accordingly.
- The entrance to the facility where parents drop off students should be parent friendly. It is the area where both home and school intersect for a brief moment each day.
Note: This tool was developed as a part of the Pre-K Team Literacy grant (University of Kansas and Kansas City Kansas Public Schools partnership) funded by the Early Childhood Professional Development Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Education.