back to school,  classroom environment

Helping Preschoolers Feel Comfortable in the Classroom

A huge part of my back to school ritual each year is making sure that my new students feel comfortable in the classroom. When they feel at home they are more likely to build stronger relationships with me, and with each other.  Helping children feel comfortable is also the first step in encouraging them to explore and learn.  Here are some of my strategies for making sure that my students know that the classroom is their room as much as it is mine:

  • Include them in the classroom set-up process.  I rearrange my furniture regularly, to reflect the activities and interests of my students, and each time I move something I ask the children what they think.  Sometimes they respond with observations that never would have occurred to me, and sometimes their ideas about how to use the space are better than mine.  
  • Help them be independent.  I want my students to be able to access materials on their own so that they can get what they want when they want it.  This helps cut down on interruptions when I’m working with children one on one or in small groups because the others don’t need me to get things for them.  Simple things like having shelving units children can easily reach, leaving lids off of tubs, and clearly labeling items so everyone knows where they belong can go a really long way towards building independence.
  • Make it feel like home.  Classroom can be just as cozy as a families living room – and in many cases this helps children forget that they are at school, and feel even more comfortable in their play.  I like to include framed photos of my students working together, small rugs, table lamps, and nick-knacks that add to the aesthetics of the room. Additional textiles, such as throw pillows, curtains, and tablecloths give the room ambiance and also absorb excess noise. 
  • Let the children add special touches.  The classroom isn’t really theirs until they’ve left their mark on it, so I make sure to display their artwork on the walls, add class-made books to the library, and offer decor they they can move and arrange, such as vases full of fake flowers.  
These are all simple ideas, but when used together than make a huge difference in welecoming children into the classroom environment!

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