Effective early learning classrooms are dynamic.  Supporting young learners in exploring their environments and considering their findings through words, touch or gestures leads to classrooms buzzing with activity.

Infants and Toddlers

When it comes to infants and toddlers, much preparation is done to encourage a highly creative atmosphere. Even though some children are only becoming mobile, the room is set up to encourage safe, independent exploration.

The teacher to student ratio for this age range is the center’s lowest. Having several teachers in the classroom means more time can be spent with each child. The adults speak intentionally to these young learners and constantly name and describe everything from objects and activities to feelings.

The Creative Curriculum has several learning goals at this stage including:

  • Developing trust in caretakers
  • Developing gross and fine motor skills
  • Expressing emotions appropriately
  • Trying new things with resilience
  • Embracing independence

Even a child who is not yet able to speak knows objects that are familiar and can anticipate the next steps if routines are consistent. Seeing the diaper, the infant will learn over time to anticipate that the next stop is the changing table. Teachers encourage this trust by approaching children slowing, reaching out their hands and saying things like “I’m going to pick you up now,” or “Let’s get the things we need to change your diaper.”

You will also see teachers asking parents thoughtful questions to better understand family values and home routines. These questions allow caretakers to be more consistent in their care and build stronger relationships with youngsters.

Preschool

Effective pre-school learning is dynamic.  Highly engaged young learners following their interests often leads to classrooms buzzing with activity.  Visitors can expect to see children talking, gesturing, painting, dancing, building constructions and engaging in imaginative play–sometimes all at the same time.

Learning and Understanding Others

You’ll find teachers moving from group to group.  They know the students well, and understand how they learn and interact.  Thus, the teacher’s response will differ group to group.

You may, for example, see children playing at a sand table.  Often, a teacher will listen and then pose a question like “How does sand move?” and then look to see what happens.  If children who don’t usually say much begin talking in response to her question, she may move on, as the children are exploring something new. Alternatively, she might try a different question to provoke a deeper exploration of the sand.  If a squabble over a tool is beginning, she will halt and pose questions that help children see another child’s point of view.  In this case, she will stay close to ensure physical safety as the children learn to talk about their own feelings, understand others and forge compromises.

The Value of Routines

Effective learning can be chaotic and challenging, which underscores the value of routines. The two things that most create security for young children in preschool are forming trusted relationships with adult caregivers and being able to predict what will come next in their day. No matter whether its circle time, washing hands before eating or the all-important nap time, routines bring children the comfort of knowing what comes next in their school day — including, most importantly, for them to be able to predict their daily return to their family.