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Teaching Early Childhood Education – Latest Pre-K Classroom Trends

Teaching Early Childhood Education – Latest Pre-K Classroom Trends

Teaching early childhood education in the 21st century requires an understanding of the latest Pre-K classroom trends. While preschool teachers have long been familiar with traditional concepts such as circle time, play areas, and reading corners, today's early childhood learning environments include phenomena such as sensory bottles, word walls, and a variety of 'centers,' including:

  • Literacy Center
  • Computer Center
  • Listening Center
  • Art Center
  • Block Center
  • Writing Center
  • Science and Sensory Center
  • Math Center
  • Dramatic Play Center
  • Music Center
  • Woodworking Center

Pre-K Glossary

Additional terminologies which have become buzz words in the world of Pre-K include:

  • Child-Centered (decisions/choices about activities are primarily determined by the child)
  • Developmentally Appropriate (activities designed to be appropriate for the developmental and cognitive stages and abilities of the child)
  • Interdisciplinary (activities which relate to multiple subject areas, i.e. math, science, literacy, music, creative arts, social studies)
  • Inquiry-Based (development of analytical skills through discovery and exploration)
  • Learning Theory (frameworks which explain how children develop and learn)
  • Whole Child (a comprehensive view of the child in determining what he or she needs to be a motivated, successful, and healthy learner)
  • Environmental Conditions (including classroom layout and environmental sustainability)
  • Natural World vs. Built Environment
  • Providers (educators, parents, and other adults/caregivers responsible for the child)

Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS)

To provide care and education that permits children to experience a high quality of life while helping them develop their abilities, the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale measures 43 items based on 7 categories: space and furnishings, personal care routines, language-reasoning, activities, interactions, program structure, and parents & staff. The ECERS is an effective tool designed to help Pre-K teachers develop, assess, and improve early education activities, settings, teaching strategies, and learning opportunities, transforming the Pre-K classroom into a safe and positive environment.

Pre-K Classroom Design

Researchers have long established the powerful influence of the physical environment on learning. From Joseph Schwab in 1973, to Judith Seaver and Carol Cartwright in 1986, and onwards through the 1990s until today, a direct link as been found between classroom layout and activities and child behavior and development. As such, the early childhood learning environment itself is a critical and powerful teaching tool. Recommended best practices in setting up a pre-K classroom include:

  • Well-organized space
  • Flexible layout with choices
  • Areas for large group and small group activities
  • Separation between quiet and noisy areas
  • Opportunities for individual learning, teacher-directed, and child-initiated activities
  • Preschool furniture and learning materials which foster exploration and development
  • Indoor and outdoor activity areas

Preschool Outdoor Environment

The ideal preschool environment offers experiences which facilitate young children's growth and enhance their skills in all developmental areas: physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and intellectual.

Since the development of motor skills is an essential component in children's growth process, arranging an effective outdoor environment is equally important in planning an early childhood education program. Research shows that movement stimulates the brain, preparing it for learning, while outdoor activities are a fun way to capitalize on children’s natural inclination to move and learn. Preschool teachers can further incorporate the outdoor environment into their indoor classroom with:

  • Sand and water table
  • Free-standing easels
  • Picnic table and basket
  • Gardening Center
  • Science discovery tools
  • Activities on wheels

Early Education Classroom Learning Centers

From dramatic play to music, technology, literacy, and more, Pre-K classroom learning centers provide rich, sensory learning experiences, benefiting young children in multiple ways and long into the future.

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