The Importance of Classroom Design

May 3, 2018 by

One of the most important aspects of becoming a new teacher is the design and structure of your classroom. This is especially true if you’re a preschool or elementary school teacher. The physical makeup of your room impacts how your students will learn, their ability to focus, and the overall learning environment. Designing a preschool room means designating specific centers where certain types of play are encouraged. The main centers you’ll find in most preschool rooms are as follows:

  • Dramatic play
  • Quiet corner
  • Blocks
  • Science/Math
  • Literacy
  • Art

Different childcare facilities set their classrooms up differently, but these are the basic centers that most classrooms should have. And here’s a breakdown of what you can find in each one.

Dramatic Play

This is the area where students are able to explore their imagination and engage in all forms of pretend play. Common items found in dramatic play centers include kitchens, workbenches, dress up clothing, and dolls. Here students can pretend to play house, run a supermarket, build things, and explore different types of occupations. Depending on the theme in the classroom, the dramatic play center can be changed to a veterinarian hospital, recycling center, or restaurant. Dramatic play is great for teaching communication and social skills as well as empathy and sharing.

Quiet Corner

This center is exactly as it sounds. It’s a quiet place for students to relax, unwind, and enjoy some quiet play either alone or with a few other children. A lot of times the library or book section of the classroom shares the same space with the quiet area. Books are kept in either a small bookshelf or basket. The quiet area should offer a few soft items such as oversized pillows or carpet. This area should also be kept separate from the noisier areas of the room such as blocks and dramatic play. Quiet corners are great places for those children that enjoy privacy and avoid overstimulation.

Blocks

Blocks are an essential part of any young child’s learning experience. Though it may seem as if their favorite thing to do is build giant towers only to knock them down, you’d be surprised at how much learning and development occurs in this area of the room. Building with blocks takes both gross and fine motor skills, depending on the size of the blocks. It takes teamwork and problem solving, especially when children are working together to create something. Block building requires forethought and planning, as well as persistence when things don’t go as planned. This also lends itself to a child’s ability to regulate their feelings and show self control in times of frustration. You should try to incorporate several different types of blocks into this area including large wooden pieces, hollow cardboard blocks, and oddly shaped varieties. Incorporate other items into your block area as well including figures, cars, and other accessories that will enrich the experience and expand the child’s learning possibilities.

Science/Math

The science and math centers of the room are often found together and can include a long list of different materials. Some basic science materials include plants, rocks, magnifying glasses, sand and water play, and other outdoor items you can safely bring inside. Adding math to the mix, the center can include scales, counters, dice, and geo peg boards. When you add numbers and counting into the mix, almost anything can become an adequate math manipulative. The other great thing about filling these centers is that you can use the fabulous teacher discount codes you receive at a long list of supply stores to get your hands on some really valuable materials.

Literacy

The children will gain some exposure to literacy in the quinte area and library, but the literacy area should also incorporate writing exercises into the child’s day. Here, you can provide different writing implements like pencils and paper, chalk and small boards, computers, and even sand. Children gain so much from experimenting with writing on different materials. Muscle memory is an important part of the writing process and this is where repetition comes into play. Giving your students the opportunity to repeat the actions and motions of forming letters will help them master the writing process down the road.

Art

What childcare center would be complete without a little messy art center? This area should be positioned near a sink and a floor that offers easy cleaning (not a carpet!) The options are truly endless when it comes to what you should include in your art center. After all, art is all about creativity and interpretation. Some classic ideas are blank pieces of paper in various sizes and colors, markers, crayons, and paint supplies. But you can expand this even more by adding clay, scissors, stencils, glue, feathers, tissue paper, and any other arts and crafts materials you have lying around. That’s another great thing about the art center – it’s the perfect place for scrap papers and materials that you think you’ll never use. Trust me, place them in the art center and your students will find a way to use them!

Keep the Children in Mind

When designing your classroom it’s important to keep the specific students in mind. What works one year may not work the next. Don’t get discouraged. This just means that your students require a different arrangement than the year prior. Once you understand the needs of your students, you can easily design a room that helps foster them as individual learners and as a group. Designing the classroom is the most enjoyable parts of the teaching process, so don’t stress about it and try to have fun!

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