Procedures, Rules with Consequences, and Reward System
The suggested plan is developed for children aged 5. Kids of this age group are known to be rather active and curious, so classroom procedures created for them have to be filled with fun and original activities. The basic procedures at preschool lessons are painting, singing, reading, counting, cutting out, and gluing. Other preschool procedures include greeting, physical exercises, going to a cafeteria, and visiting a bathroom. The basic classroom rules are listening to teacher’s directions and following them, respecting each other, raising a hand before speaking, and keeping one’s desk neat and organized. Depending on the seriousness of disobeying the rules, consequences may vary from a verbal reminder to a private conversation after the lesson.
A reward system will incorporate mentioning children’s good deeds on a special bulletin board that everyone can see. A teacher may post a list of the best achievements of the day. The information displayed on such a bulletin board should be presented with the help of colored paper, stickers, pictures, and photographs. Also, a good idea to raise both children’s responsibility and community spirit are to keep a class pet (a soft toy with an interesting name and exciting history). Children who do their best in some activities will take the pet home for a day.
Classroom Dynamics Including Expected Teacher and Student Interactions
Classroom dynamics constitute the elements that are responsible for building a positive environment (Gest, Madill, Zadzora, Miller, & Rodkin, 2014). Dynamics is considered good when every child is actively engaged in in-class activities. The expected teacher and student interactions supporting classroom dynamics are the ones aimed at developing motivation, discipline, and participation. Therefore, a teacher has to arrange communication with students based on trust and respect to promote their engagement in all elements of classwork.
Academic Play, Classroom Schedule, and Transitions
The role of academic play, transitions, and classroom schedules in preschool cannot be overestimated. Children at the age of five need to play to release their energy. Also, they learn their lessons, as well as the basics of communication skills, through playing games (Nikolopoulou & Gialamas, 2015). Thus, when arranging the classroom schedule, the teacher should include many elements of academic play. To make the schedule easier to notice and remember, it should be colorful and contain pictures next to the schedule components. By doing so, a teacher may be sure that every student will pay attention to the schedule. A good idea is to compose the schedule of removable parts so that the children could keep track of how many activities they have covered and how many are waiting for them ahead. The best transitions for preschoolers are songs and chants accompanied by physical movements.
Classroom Elements That Will Support a Positive Learning Environment for All Students
Both preschool and home environments have a significant influence on preschoolers’ academic success (Anders et al., 2012). A teacher cannot participate in the creation of the home environment, but it is in my power to arrange the most positive circumstances for your five-year-olds in preschool. I plan to employ the following strategies for creating and sustaining a positive learning environment:
Arranging good relationships
Before starting academic communication, I would like to build personal relationships with parents and children. The preparation for this stage may take some time, but it is a valuable contribution to the arrangement of the classroom environment. The teacher may make phone calls to parents or send them letters introducing himself or herself as well as suggesting some details about the classes. Also, teachers should not exclude mutual suggestions and pieces of advice. Experienced teachers may have something to share, and young teachers may help their senior colleagues to master some new technologies.
Constructing clear communication
Teachers working with young children should understand their students’ language and try to get on the same level. It is possible to use some technical appliances, physical exercises, or humor to build good communication. When children realize that their teacher treats them as equals, they will be more open-minded and exposed to learning.
Creating an atmosphere of trust
It is crucial to let the children know that their decisions are important and their ideas are taken into account. The more freedom the teacher gives to children, the more responsibility they will feel. Moreover, it is also important to trust oneself as a teacher. Educators in preschool should realize that planning is good, but sometimes, spontaneous decisions may bring more benefits than careful arrangements.
Arranging a positive atmosphere in the classroom
A teacher should be in a good mood and not let children know if anything is wrong in his or her professional or private life. Teachers should encourage students to smile and express their positive emotions. The atmosphere of optimism and support is one of the key components of success when working with small children.
Setting definite goals and being relevant
It is crucial to establish clear expectations and follow them in the process of teaching. Also, it is necessary to cover the material that is suitable for children without making the process of education too easy or too complicated. In the first case, the children will be bored. In the second case, they will be afraid of going to preschool and underestimate their possibilities.
Parents’ participation in preschoolers’ education is a significant constituent of children’s success. Van Voorhis, Maier, Epstein, and Lloyd (2013) notice a positive impact of family involvement on the development of mathematics and literacy skills in young children. The interaction between preschool and parents includes educational activities at home and family involvement in the classroom (Van Voorhis et al., 2013). The more interest parents demonstrate in their child’s education, the more engaged the child will become.
Family members may be invited to participate in the following activities:
- showing support and encouragement to the child in the process of education;
- exchanging information about the child’s curriculum and progress;
- taking part in the preschool decision-making process concerning the education of the child;
- supporting children as young learners at home (Morrison, Storey, & Zhang, 2015).
Family involvement in child education is crucial since it develops emotional and cognitive flexibility. Parents who are interested in their child’s early learning classroom can comprehend the system of education better. Regular cooperation between teachers and parents helps to create a varied and interesting curriculum (Morrison et al., 2015). In the current plan, the following types of family involvement are suggested:
- a family bulletin board: a teacher will post information about children, important school events, and learning experience in a visible area. It is also possible to include the activities requiring volunteers and invite parents to express their suggestions;
- teacher-family conferences: the first one will be organized at the beginning of the preschool year. At this meeting, parents will be invited to share vital information about their children such as family customs and parents’ expectations from the educational process. When scheduling a teacher-family conference, it is necessary to pay particular attention to choosing the time that will be convenient for the parents (Morrison et al., 2015);
- a family center: I would like to arrange a comfortable zone where parents could communicate in an informal way about their children and the learning process;
- a website: it may take time and effort to launch a class website, but this way of sharing information is rather convenient for both parties. The teacher will save time by posting the information about the events on a web page, and parents will read the news issues when they have time and opportunity;
- newsletters: I will provide parents with weekly reports about their children’s achievements and preschool activities. The newsletters will contain not only facts but also pictures of the children’s learning process. If some children’s parents do not speak English, it will be necessary to have a newsletter translated so that they could also read it.
- community activities: education fairs, cultural events, health, and library services (Morrison et al., 2015).
Collaboration between children and their parents may be enhanced by doing educational explorations and preparing projects together.
Managing Conflicts and Challenging Behaviors
Even though preschoolers are small children, each of them has a character and expresses emotions in different ways, not all of which are pleasant and peaceful (Skalická, Belsky, Stenseng, & Wichstrøm, 2015). A teacher must come up with the best conflict resolution ideas and maintain a positive atmosphere in the classroom. The first thing preschoolers need to be taught about managing their behavior is that it is unacceptable to shout at their peers or hurt them. Instead, a teacher should instruct children to take deep breaths or count to ten when they feel that they are highly dissatisfied with something. The next step is sharing the reason for a conflict situation with the teacher or another child. Further, children need to explain how they feel and suggest a solution to the situation. Finally, the teacher should help students to find a compromise.
The feedback from my classroom teacher and the collaboration with my Collaborative Learning Community had a rather beneficial impact on the development of my plan. In the process of preparing the plan, I received many useful suggestions and critical pieces of advice that helped me to create a plan of healthy, supportive, challenging, and respectful environments for young children.
The classroom teacher reviewed my work at different stages and emphasized the strengths and weaknesses of my plan. As a result, at the final step of composing the project, I was sure that each element of the plan had been thoroughly considered and did not contain any unnecessary information. The teacher explained to me why some of my ideas were not relevant but encouraged me not to throw them away since they might be used in future projects.
Collaborative Learning Community meetings were also rather productive. They provided me with many useful materials that I incorporated when creating the classroom environment plan. At these meetings, I got acquainted with many examples and case studies that outlined my personal beliefs about creating the most effective classroom environment.
Owing to the feedback from my teacher and cooperation with the Collaborative Learning Community, I was able to compose an interesting and effective early childhood classroom environment plan that can be employed by teachers working with five-year-old students. The suggestions given in the plan will be useful both for teachers and parents and will help to arrange the most beneficial learning environment for eager young learners.
Anders, Y., Rossbach, H.-G., Weinert, S., Ebert, S., Kruger, S., Lehrl, S., & von Maurice, J. (2012). Home and preschool learning environments and their relations to the development of early numeracy skills. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27, 231-244.
Gest, S. D., Madill, R. A., Zadzora, K. M., Miller, A. M., & Rodkin, P. C. (2014). Teacher management of elementary classroom social dynamics: Associations with changes in student adjustment. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 22(2), 107-118.
Morrison, J. W., Storey, P., & Zhang, C. (2015). Accessible family involvement in early childhood programs. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 39(3), 33-38.
Nikolopoulou, K., & Gialamas, V. (2015). ICT and play in preschool: Early childhood teachers’ beliefs and confidence. International Journal of Early Years Education, 23(4), 409-425.
Skalická, V., Belsky, J., Stenseng, F., & Wichstrøm, L. (2015). Reciprocal relations between student–teacher relationship and children’s behavioral problems: Moderation by child-care group size. Child Development, 86(5), 1557-1570.
Van Voorhis, F. L., Maier, M. F., Epstein, J. L., & Lloyd, C. M. (2013). The impact of family involvement on the education of children ages 3 to 8. Web.