I am finally sitting in the corner of my new classroom, pondering piles of furniture and manipulatives. This is always an exciting time, but it is also an overwhelming one.
The environment is one of the most important aspects of early education. Children should feel that it is their space, and that it is a safe and welcoming one. Even in higher grades now, gone are the days of individual desks -- many educators now favor the idea of collaboration. This has always been a popular idea in early childhood.
It used to seem straightforward to me: block area, dramatic play, writing, art, science, books. But then I noticed that children were running through dramatic play to get to science, creating chaos and disorganization. Children who wanted to add a sign to a block structure had to walk across the classroom to get the materials, so instead of turning sounds into letters and putting that on paper, they just skipped it. I hope I am getting the point across that, below the neatly arranged surface of a preschool classroom, there is so much more to think about.
I am lucky that I have this entire week (!!!) to arrange my classroom. Today, Monday, I took things down that were left from the last teacher and moved almost everything into the hallway. There is always the opportunity to introduce more things later on on the year; I don't want to overwhelm the students as they transition into the new school year. There are new friends, new adults, new spaces, and for many of these children, a new city with new languages. As I mentioned above, comfort and safety are the main ideas for the beginning of the year.
Perhaps some of you are teachers, getting ready for the beginning of the school year. Maybe you are returning to your classroom; maybe you are prying hologram stickers off of the wall like I am. Either way, best of luck, and I'd be interested to know how it works (or does not work) for you!