Fresh from a long and tiring six weeks of attachment, but inspired and enlightened!
By the way, though the attachment was tiring, there were plenty of positive things too. I had a fantastic time there, enjoyed the children and staff… and apparently was enjoyed too, hehe. Check these out…
During my student attachment with a private preschool here in Singapore, I had the choice opportunity to observe some fantastic classroom management strategies used by the teachers. Here is just one to begin with:
Environment—the setup of the classroom heavily impacts the way children behave! When I first started my attachment, the classrooms were arranged with shelves lining the walls, and two lovely oval tables (which I would love to purchase for my own classroom if only I had the space!!) in the centre of the room. To us adults, it was a nice, clean arrangement which made the room spacious and airy-looking…
…but to the children, what did that mean but a great race track around and between the tables! And race they did. During transitions from one activity to another when they were not occupied with something to do, they made good use of the space. Of course, three year olds never run just for the sake of running. Running would turn into racing, which progressed (no, I mean digressed!) squabbling, accidents and a hundred other little unforeseen commotions. Yup, we ended up with a rowdy, unmanageable class of three year olds on our hands!
Two weeks into my time there, the teacher rearranged the classroom. Shelves and tables were used to separate the classroom into little corners. These corners were turned into a math corner, manipulatives corner and reading corner. The open space in the centre of the room was transformed into a sort of pathway marked out by the positions of the tables and shelves. One stretch of space remained empty along the front of the classroom, with sufficient space for energetic activities (under control!) and group time.
The results were amazing. The class immediately became quieter, more organized and more manageable. It was like magic, no kidding! N1 Racing became obsolete in the one hour it took to transform our classroom. I was thrilled to observe that simple changes in the layout could so drastically alter their behaviour. With less space to run in the classroom, the children actually walked. Without being reminded to do so. In the corners, the rolling around, jumping and throwing were also reduced, because the corners were like little rooms for them to work in. Even in the open space, with less empty floor space, they were able to sit quietly during lesson time, for a longer period of time. (No worries, they still had regular outdoor time and gym play, so they were not deprived!) Who would have thought that some simple rearrangements could have worked such a miracle? :)
By the way, this isn’t limited to the classroom. Anywhere you need a group of calm children, don’t forget environment. Those activity rooms, living rooms (with all the precious glass decor on display), dining areas… the list goes on! So the next time you’re enlisted to babysit the children for a function, think environment!
Thank you for reading! More management tips in the next newsletter~