Day Care Center – Setting Up the Classroom

Daycare licensees and administrators must give special attention to preschool day care classroom layout before the beginning of each school year. The preschool classroom is the child’s first introduction to the world of education hence making a layout that will be attractive and enjoyable to the child will be very important. A good classroom layout could make the child’s introduction to education a fun learning experience or a nightmare that could have a lasting negative effect.

A good first impression of the school’s layout could help develop in a child a set of positive feelings and associations that will help carry them through in a lifetime of learning. In addition, the classroom must provide a worthwhile learning and playing experience that will help prevent a separation anxiety disorder on the children as they were left on the daycare center by their parents.

One fact that daycare licensees and administrators must always consider is that preschoolers are very active – they are always moving – so having a chaotic environment is always a possibility. Planning the classroom layout to prevent this chaotic environment is both a challenge and a necessity if they want to keep the interest of the children and at the same time guarantee their safety.

Child-sizing the Classroom

The common mistake of classroom designers is to make the layout from the point of view and the spatial requirements of an adult. While everything must not be scaled down to pint-size such as ceiling height and window sizes, almost everything in the classroom must be designed to the size of the children who will inhabit the area. Children will be very much uncomfortable and uneasy if the furniture in the classroom, as well as other amenities, will be adult-sized. It will also be quite dangerous for them trying to climb oversized chairs or getting something from adult-sized shelves.

Planning the classroom layout will require that the person who will do the design it must kneel in order to look at things on a child’s eye level. This will definitely change the planner’s concept of things to be incorporated into the classroom. The planner will be able to envision the right size of the chairs, tables, shelves, and everything that will be needed inside a preschool classroom.

Planning a preschool classroom will also need a clear understanding of space from the point of view of a child. While the distance from a table to the nearest toy shelf may be a few steps away when an adult is involved, the planner has to understand that it will require much more steps for the child. Arrangement of furniture must therefore be done from the perspective of a child and not that of an adult.

A tricky part in designing the classroom using a child’s perspective and size is how it will affect the teacher and other staff of the daycare center. While furniture arrangement will suit the needs of the children, the planner has to consider also that the teacher and other staff have to be moving around the classroom. If the staff will be moving around in the classroom whose furniture are designed for the size of the children, they could trip over some tables or chairs as they move about. There is a need to strike a balance between the needs of the children and the need of the staff especially on matters that involve spatial arrangement of things.

Classroom Division

The classroom must be divided into the necessary sections as the various needs demand. Normally, a preschool classroom will need areas for art, blocks, manipulative activities, dramatic play, music, library, and science. There will be instances also that will require a writing area, usually close to the library section. An indoor playground could also be incorporated into the preschool classroom. The layout planner must see to it that an area is devoted for each of these purposes and that related activities must be placed close or near each other. For example, the play area must be adjacent or very close to the shelves where toys are kept.

Classroom division need not be uniform in size as different activities may require varied space requirements. Dramatic play areas are expected to be bigger in size than music area. Also, some kind of classroom activities may be noisier than others hence it will be necessary that these are assigned areas quite far from the area that will be assigned to quiet activities like the reading area. The music area must not be put very close to the dramatic area as the sound will interfere with the activities being undertaken in the dramatic area. Art and reading areas must be assigned to the quieter side of the classroom as these will need a lot of concentration on the part of the children and any noise or music could ruin their concentration.

It is important to clearly mark the boundaries of the different areas of the classroom. Divisions could be in the form of shelves or by putting color duct tape on the floor in order to delineate assigned activity areas.

The center of the classroom must be cleared of any furniture or large objects so it can be utilized as an assembly area of the students every time there is a need for them to be gathered together for an activity such as story-telling or show-and-tell. This area is also where students can form into a large circle when they need to be interacting with each other.

The walls of the preschool classroom may be utilized for different purposes such as decoration, show area of the children’s work, bulletin board, charts, and an attendance board with the pictures of each child enrolled in the particular class.

Sections of the classroom must be clearly identified usually by hanging signs that will show which area is to be used for a particular purpose. The children may not be able to read yet but they can be trained to recognize signs that will lead them to section where they must go for a particular activity.

It will indeed require a lot of creativity and imagination to make a layout of a preschool classroom but seeing the children enjoy and have fun will be worth all the efforts.

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