Children’s development benefits tremendously from socialization with their peers. Preschool is a great way for children to have a fun and safe environment where they can engage in meaningful play experiences with friends that are facilitated by teachers. How you teach local preschool will greatly impact your preschoolers’ development, so it is important to always be intentional in your planning.
KEEP A CONSISTENT ROUTINE
All classrooms need predictable routines to create normalcy. Preschoolers strive when there are consistent routines in place because a sense of stability is gained that helps children know what to expect. This reduces stress and creates a calm environment. Change can be a great learning opportunity, but because it can also create stress for children it should be avoided when possible in the preschool classroom. Frequent and major changes in routine in particular are to be avoided.
The key to a great preschool classroom routine is to not only have consistency, but to also have as few transitions as possible. This will help keep your classroom organized and running smoothly. Ensure that there is enough time to make transitions gradual to avoid stress. Otherwise, transitions can lead to power struggles with your preschoolers.
Although you do need to have clear expectations for your preschoolers, there can still be a great deal of flexibility in your preschool classroom. For example, during circle time you would of course expect your students to be polite and not be disruptive. However, you can give your preschoolers some flexibility by not requiring them to come to the circle as long as they are still being respectful. Of course, if you are doing circle time right, they will all want to be at circle most days. Trust that your preschoolers know what they need in that moment though, and allow them that space if needed.
Center time is another time that having some flexibility will benefit your classroom greatly. With centers, it is not so much about allowing your preschoolers to choose not to participate as much as letting them decide how they interact within the centers. If your centers are designed to only be used in one specific way, your preschoolers will get bored. That is when you will often start seeing some unwelcome behavior during center time. Having open-ended materials within each center gives your preschoolers the freedom to plan and follow through with their own child-led play.
LET THEM LEARN THROUGH PLAY
Young children learn best through hands-on experiences and play. The primary focus of preschool learning should be building a strong foundation of social and emotional skills. This will set them up for success throughout their school years and life. The best way to learn these skills is through natural play experiences with their peers that are facilitated by an experienced teacher. Your preschoolers will also be working on their fine motor, gross motor, language, and cognitive skills as they play.
Play is also important for healthy brain development. As children play they are building connections between nerve cells in the brain. These connections are essential for building strong problem solving skills, planning, and emotional self-regulation. Play is also fun, which is why children become so absorbed in what they are doing, which extends their learning further.
USE AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENTS
Authentic assessment tools are the standard in high quality early childhood education programs and are considered best practice. Written observations, photos, and children’s work are typically used to compile portfolios as a form of authentic assessments for individual students in preschool classrooms. This gives teachers a clear way to see how each preschooler has progressed over time within each developmental domain, allowing them to form meaningful individualized goals for each of their preschoolers.
There is no one way to teach local preschool, but remember to have fun and engage with your preschoolers through play and reading/telling stories. Create a calm and inviting classroom environment and you will be able to have an organized and smoothly running preschool classroom that children and families love.