Setting up a classroom is easily the hardest thing for most teachers to do. Without out knowing the specific needs of the class, a teacher has to create a room that is accessible, safe, and engaging to all the students who might enter the classroom. Keeping those goals in mind is the key to having a great classroom environment.
While there is often only one year difference between kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students the room requirements and setup are very different. Pre-kindergarten classes focus more on a student’s social and emotional growth and development. In today’s kindergarten classroom, the focus is shifting to a more academic setting. Students are expected to spend most of the day doing more direct learning instead of learning through play and exploration. While both of these grades have some many similarities in the types of areas that need to be created, each one requires a slightly different setup.
For large group instruction a carpet can be used to define the area. Having a carpet that is big enough to fit everyone in the class helps students feel a sense of belonging. It also gives each student a defined space to sit in, without imposing on another student’s personal space. The class rules and behavior chart should also be posted near the large group area so it is easy to see and use.
The other group area that should be set up, with or without a separate carpet, is an area in front of a large computer monitor. The monitor can be hooked up to the teacher’s computer allowing students to see what is on the screen, without having to crowd around a typically small computer screen. The teacher can share video clips, animated story books, and do typed shared writing activities. If the monitor has a touch screen over lay students can simply touch the screen and interact with various learning programs. Having a set of speakers at both group areas allows the teacher to play songs or other recordings for students to listen to as a group.
To ensure that the room is accessible to all students spacing has to be considered. If a student is expected to use a pathway it should be wide enough for all students, including those in wheelchairs, to pass through comfortably. Book cases or storage shelves can be pushed against the walls to create a more open floor plan that is easy to navigate. This also allows the teacher to see all areas of the classroom at once. Using these storage units to section off different activity areas, such a library corner or dramatic play, gives students a defined space to use, and also helps students distinguish what types of behaviors are deemed acceptable in different settings.
A small group table should be located near the teacher’s desk. The table can be used for small groups of students to focus on various skills. The table should be taller than the student’s tables, while still low enough for students to comfortably work at the table. This allows the families or other adults to come in the room and...