April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: Effective Transitions

Effective Transitions

Asking children to stop what they are doing and change directions to start something new can cause strong emotions for some children. This is where possibly the most important classroom management skill comes into play: mastering transition time, which is a key factor for a well-managed classroom.

Moving from one element of the daily routine to another can be easily facilitated by creative and engaging transition activities.  There are several time-tested strategies we can implement that are both effective and fun:

  • Establish clear expectations for children. For every transition, they need to understand what is happening next, what they are expected to do, and where they need to be. When a new transition is required, be sure to introduce it during group meetings and explain the reason for it.
  • It is important that the transition activities you choose help bridge the space between activities. This means that the energy of the transition activity should align with the energy level of the next activity.  The best example may be to consider what not to do – you would not have children transition to naptime by doing 20 jumping jacks.  Instead, pick a calming activity to set the stage for nap time.
  • Provide advanced warning prior to asking children to transition, especially for children who struggle with changing gears; they may need even more warning than other children.
  • Visual cues can be implemented to support transitions, which is more important the younger our children are.  Incorporate visual clues such as countdown clocks and visual schedules, which can help the children understand the timing and sequence of transitions. Use consistent signals as cues to when an activity begins and ends, this may be a sound or a song that the students associate with transitioning to the next task.
  • An important part of mastering transitions is practice. Take the time to practice transitions with the students until they become familiar with the routine. Be positive and encouraging, and praise students who transition smoothly.
  • As with most things being well prepared goes a long way. Plan activities and have materials prepared to minimize any downtime between activities. Prepare for the unexpected by having a reserve of engaging transitional activities you can turn to if an activity does not seem to be working as intended.

Transitions may not always go as planned and routines may be off. Be flexible and adapt. If the transition routines you have in place are not working, adjust them or make new ones. The key to good transitions is consistency. Consistently implement your transition routine. Practice, patience, and support will soon have you and your students mastering transition time.

 

For the main article What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?, CLICK HERE

For the article Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Classroom Management Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Consistent Routines, CLICK HERE

April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: Consistent Routines

Consistent Routines

An essential way to keep a well-managed classroom is to set consistent routines and schedules. Routines are structured and predictable sequences of activities throughout the school day that help establish a sense of order and consistency. They typically involve various daily routines, such as morning greetings, group times, snacks and lunchtime, playtime, rest time, and outdoor play. Classroom routines can involve the entire class or even just small groups or individual children.

Why are classroom routines important? Consistent routines and schedules help young children learn the flow of the day and what to expect from one day to the next. By establishing routines and following schedules teachers help children feel confident and comfortable knowing what is happening in the classroom. This structure can create a sense of safety and ease within their learning environment. Providing this sense of safety and comfort is essential in an ECE setting, where children are learning about the world and who they can trust.

Classroom routines also help foster social and emotional development, helping children build essential skills such as cooperation and emotional regulation. The comfort that routines provide children is conducive to learning skills across the developmental continuum as calm and secure children are better able to take in new information.

Within each element of the daily routine, there are even smaller routines. Let’s take a look at an example  of a few strategies for establishing consistent routines throughout the daily schedule:

  • Morning routines are essential. This is one of the most active and busiest parts of the day. Routines to start the day include greeting children and families, washing hands, and storing belongings in appropriate places. These elements set the stage for the rest of the morning. Greetings should be warm and welcoming, and their belongings should be kept in bins or cubbies that are personalized and special to them.
  • Class meetings and large group gatherings should be part of the routine in most classrooms. The activities within these meeting times should also remain somewhat consistent, perhaps including creative attendance taking, sharing of news from home, announcements, and reading stories. These large group times should be reserved for topics that apply to the large group.  We know that children develop cognitive skills at different rates and that children have different interests, meaning that most traditional circle time elements may be better suited to small group activities.
  • Routines surrounding meals and snacks encompass many moving parts. Be sure that the steps children need to take are realistic based on children’s developmental abilities.  Break these large elements down into smaller chunks. Create a routine for handwashing, setting the table, passing food around the table (if you use family-style dining), and clearing the table.  Create expectations for each step, and turn those steps into a song or poem to help children remember what they need to do along the way.  Singing a song or reminding children of their responsibilities using a catchphrase can be less punitive than constant prompts and reminders.
  • Clean-up time can be overwhelming for young children, but it is one of the most important routines that can be established in a classroom. Cleaning up builds a sense of responsibility for the classroom community and teamwork as children work together to accomplish the task. Again, set the expectations for what “cleaned-up” looks like.  Take pictures of materials and adhere them to the shelves and storage bins to make it easier for children to clean up independently.  Turn clean-up into a game, where each child is assigned a different shaped block to clean up, which reinforces shape identification skills.
  • Outdoor time is full of fun and energetic explorations. Weather conditions play a big role in whether children are able to explore outdoors. Teachers should have contingency plans in place to allow children to expend energy indoors on days of inclement weather.
  • Teachers can keep children on track by posting easy-to-follow schedules in the classroom. Refer to the schedule throughout the day, especially at the beginning of the school year, when changes are made to the routine, and when new children join the group.
  • Whenever possible, inform children about changes to the routine in advance. Remind them several times that a change to the schedule will happen on Friday because a visitor is coming to perform for them. Talk about the expectations for that activity well in advance, and share the information with families so they can have similar conversations at home.

Classroom routines save time, comfort children, and help the day run smoother. If the routines you have in place are not working, change them or create new ones. The goal is to provide the best environment possible.

 

For the main article What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?, CLICK HERE

For the article Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Classroom Management Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Effective Transitions, CLICK HERE

April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: Classroom Management Strategies

Classroom Management Strategies

Classroom management strategies support learning and provide the appropriate environment where students can thrive and develop. Whether your classroom consists of toddlers or 4-year-olds heading off to kindergarten, providing an appropriate environment that fosters learning is a crucial part of an educator’s job.

Let’s look at some strategies for creating engaging and enjoyable learning environments. It is important to remember to adapt these strategies to match children’s ages and needs.

  • Establish strong relationships with children. Build bonds with children. Show them respect and assure them that you are there to help them whenever they need you.  Communicate gently and model cooperation. Doing so builds trust.
  • A well-managed classroom has clear expectations. Rules and expectations should be clearly defined for children. Create a list of positive phrases that communicate the expected behaviors children should use in the classroom. Post these expectations prominently in the classroom, using both words and illustrations. Review the expectations frequently and as necessary when issues arise. Employ logical consequences and problem-solving strategies to address behaviors that do not align with the expectations.
  • Recognize children who are engaging in the behavior you expect to see. You do not need to give away stickers or prizes; simply acknowledge children’s actions that align with the expectations. Thank the children for helping to clean up. Recognize their efforts, even if their attempts fall short of expectations because doing so can encourage them to keep trying.
  • Evaluate the physical layout of the room to determine whether a different arrangement would be more effective. Eliminate runways to prevent running indoors. Move the block area to a corner of the classroom to protect builders and their work. ECE classrooms should offer a wide variety of well-organized materials to prevent clutter. Rotate materials to create novelty and avoid excess materials that can be overwhelming.
  • Plan developmentally appropriate activities that reflect children’s interests and abilities. Gather all materials and be prepared for activities to reduce children’s wait time. Have alternative plans in place in case the lesson falls flat or is wrapped up more quickly than expected. Be flexible and follow the children’s lead.
  • A classroom management strategy that is often overlooked is effective communication with families in an effort to create consistency between home and school. Families can offer insight into children’s unique needs and interests. It is helpful to communicate routines and expectations with families so they can talk with their children about these classroom elements. Keep lines of communication open but be sure to share more positive anecdotes with families to keep relationships strong.

In addition to these strategies, establishing clear routines and transitions are also elements of a well-managed classroom.  Keep reading to learn more.

 

For the main article Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?, CLICK HERE

For the article Consistent Routines, CLICK HERE

For the article Effective Transitions, CLICK HERE

April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?

What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?

Being an educator is rewarding and demanding work. Leading a classroom of young children is fulfilling, but it can present many challenges. Successfully implementing planned activities is a skill that all early childhood educators must attain and develop. To fully meet the needs of curious and energetic young children, educators must employ skills that extend beyond the planned lessons of the day

What is classroom management? Classroom management includes all the tools, skills, and activities that educators use to keep students focused, engaged, and organized throughout the day. Teachers can implement a wide array of strategies that have been well-tested over time to maintain an orderly classroom environment. However, it is also necessary that educators adapt these strategies to meet the needs of specific children in the classroom.

So, why is classroom management so important in a preschool setting? A well-managed classroom ensures an environment that is conducive to learning. These classrooms are spaces where toddlers and preschoolers can develop cognitively, socially, and emotionally with the support of trusted adults. It is crucial for children to learn social and emotional skills during the preschool years.  Research has found that healthy social-emotional development is essential for future academic success.

As early childhood educators we must foster the appropriate environment where this development can occur. Good classroom management also helps provide safe classrooms for our children. Disruptive behaviors can present safety hazards in the classroom for students and teachers. A well-managed classroom can make a teacher’s job easier by reducing stress for both children and teachers.  When students are appropriately engaged, there are fewer conflicts and supervision becomes easier.

Developing strategies for operating a well-run classroom should be a top priority for ECE professionals. Many tools and resources are available. Not every strategy will work perfectly the first time it is employed. It is important that teachers are responsive to the needs of the children in the group and match strategies to the needs children are communicating.  Check out the rest of the newsletter to learn more.

 

For the main article Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Classroom Management Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Consistent Routines, CLICK HERE

For the article Effective Transitions, CLICK HERE

April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments

Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments

Providing a nurturing and stable learning environment for the children in our classrooms is a primary goal for every early childhood educator. Effective classroom management depends on educators employing multiple skills and competencies.  Educators use classroom management strategies to guide behavior, engage students, and facilitate learning. Effectively managing the classroom may be one of the most challenging and difficult skills an early childhood educator must master.

Students of different ages will require different strategies, but the goal remains the same, create a caring classroom environment that supports children’s learning and development across all domains of learning. This must be intentionally planned by the educator, in order to produce the desired results.  Understanding the importance of effective classroom management, and the impact it has on the children’s ability to learn is crucial for every early childhood educator.

In this month’s newsletter, we will explore classroom management and why it is important. We will discuss different strategies for managing your classroom effectively, including the importance of routines and transitions. We will also explore how these strategies support healthy social and emotional development.

 

For the article What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?, CLICK HERE

For the article Classroom Management Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Consistent Routines, CLICK HERE

For the article Effective Transitions, CLICK HERE

March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children: What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?

What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?

There are many opportunities to help children learn the skills needed on the path to literacy. Educators provide many of these opportunities throughout the school day. At home, there are also many ways families can support literacy development for their little ones. Partnerships between school and home are very beneficial to children’s literacy. As educators, we must be a resource on how families can support literacy development at home.

Let families know what books are being read in the classroom, and what skills the children are learning from them. Share with families what the children are learning and working on in school. Share strategies they can use at home to teach similar skills.

Families can be encouraged to:

  • Teach children nursery rhymes and songs from different cultural traditions to strengthen language development. This can also help children develop an understanding of the patterns of language while learning about different cultures.
  • Model the behavior they want to see. Setting aside time for reading away from other distractions will show children how reading can be incorporated into daily life. Adults at home should also let their children see them engage in reading for pleasure on a regular basis.
  • Hang different kinds of print around the house, and label objects in the home. This shows the importance of language, reading, and writing.
  • Speak to children as a way to increase vocabulary and develop language. Children who have more conversations with adults learn more words.
  • Play word games, whether they are informal or actual board games, as a fun way to promote literacy.
  • Make books accessible at all times will encourage kids to read. It is helpful to have a mixture of familiar and new books, which can be accomplished by frequent visits to the local library.
  • Provide a wide variety of books to read. Favorite picture books can provide comfort. Graphic novels can keep reluctant readers engaged. Nonfiction books should be incorporated into reading time, as they can provide knowledge of science, history, cultures, and many other topics. Children who have more background knowledge have an easier time learning new concepts.

Another way to support literacy at home is to encourage the child to tell stories. This will help them gain a better understanding of the rhythm of storytelling, which will benefit them as they grow and read more complex stories.

At-home reading experiences should be based on children’s interests, meaning that families should be responsive to children’s level of engagement and attention during reading activities. Remind families that it is fine to put a bookmark in a book if their child loses interest in the book.

Whatever methods are used, literacy support at home should be encouraged, and early childhood educators are a valuable resource for families.

 

For the main article Best Practices When Reading with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE

For the article What are Interactive Read-Alouds?, CLICK HERE

March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children: What are Interactive Read-Alouds?

What are Interactive Read-Alouds?

Reading aloud to children is a common occurrence in schools. An effective and productive way to maximize the benefits of reading to kids is to conduct interactive read-alouds.

Interactive read-alouds offer planned opportunities for the students to interact with the text. During interactive read-alouds, teachers read carefully selected books and stories to the students. Throughout the reading, teachers stop to ask thought-provoking discussion questions, encouraging students to actively engage with the story that is being read. The interactions can include:

  • Asking prediction questions.
  • Asking about characters’ emotions or actions.
  • Talking to a partner about what was just read.
  • Giving a gesture of approval or disapproval of something that is occurring in the story.
  • Acting out what the character in the story may be doing or feeling.

These are just a few ways to encourage the children to actively participate throughout the read-aloud process.

There are numerous benefits to interactive read-alouds. In addition to building literacy foundations, they promote a sense of classroom community. In a community,  teachers and students connect through conversation and sharing.

This reading time allows teachers to expose students to age-appropriate, complex, and engaging stories that they may not be able to read on their own. Reading these books will help develop and build vocabulary and knowledge to prepare them for later reading.

Interactive read-alouds allow educators to model reading fluency, effective comprehension, and vocabulary which students need to develop to become strong readers. Read-alouds also help children strengthen their listening skills and increase their interest in reading.

Effective interactive read-alouds do not just happen on their own. This takes strategic preparation from the teacher. To plan an interactive read-aloud, choose the book or story you want to read with intentionality. Preview the book and think about the reading skills that you want the children to learn. Consider the other learning opportunities that exist based on the topic of the book and be sure to capitalize on those learning experiences as well.

Plan the skills you want to teach and how you will do so. Choose and mark where you will stop reading and note what you will ask the students to do at those points. Rereading the story multiple times in multiple lessons is of great benefit to the children, teaching different standards and skills each time, so plan on doing so.

There are many resources on how to plan an effective interactive read-aloud, and many suggestions on great books to use. Gather those books, make your plan, and set children on their journey to literacy.

 

For the main article Best Practices When Reading with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE

For the article What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?, CLICK HERE

March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children: Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood

Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood

As early childhood educators, we are responsible for teaching the pre-literacy skills that will prepare our students to learn how to read as they get older. The goal is to provide the background knowledge they need to understand how letters and language work. As with all lessons, we have to ensure that literacy learning is fun, interactive, and developmentally appropriate. Using developmentally appropriate literacy activities will ensure that children develop a love of reading.

The single most effective way to teach young children the foundations of literacy, and establish a love for reading is to read to them daily. Reading aloud to young children is a fun and effective way to teach the skills emerging readers need. Another article in this newsletter examines further the effective use of interactive read aloud to teach literacy skills.

Encourage frequent trips to the library, attend book fairs, and host read-aloud events on a regular basis. If you are not able to bring in professional entertainers to read books to children, invite immediate and extended family members to visit the classroom and read their favorite children’s books to the group. There may be high school students in your area who need volunteer hours – They can volunteer to do so at your center.

When children begin to show interest, introduce the alphabet, starting with relevant letters, such as the letters of their name. Learning about upper and lower case letters, and beginning to recognize individual letter sounds in words are skills that are the foundation of reading. Helping our preschoolers develop phonemic awareness and master the alphabet is extremely important. There are many ways to help our students with phonemic awareness. Using songs, finger plays, games, poems, and stories with patterns of rhyme and alliteration will help our students with phonemic awareness.

The environment of our classroom is an important component of literacy learning. We must provide our students with print-rich environments that provide opportunities and tools for children to use written language for a variety of purposes. Label the objects in the environment so children associate the letters/words with the objects in the classroom.

Build components of literacy into every activity and lesson. Give the students opportunities to engage in play that incorporates literacy tools by adding paper and pencils to all of the learning centers.  Reading, writing, and listening centers should be well-stocked and accessible at all times. Both fiction and nonfiction books should be available in all centers to support the theme or the concept that is being taught.

Finally, reading experiences and lessons should be pleasurable and fun. When children enjoy the process, they are more likely to learn.

Children who learn basic comprehension skills, develop a significant vocabulary, and establish early phonemic awareness will be ready to learn more complex literacy skills as they enter elementary school. It is our responsibility to provide children with meaningful, everyday experiences, in which they build this foundation. Learning these foundational skills during the preschool years is of utmost importance if children become strong readers and communicators.

 

For the main article Best Practices When Reading with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children, CLICK HERE

For the article What are Interactive Read-Alouds?, CLICK HERE

For the article What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?, CLICK HERE

March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children: Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children

Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children

Reading to children has been proven to promote literacy learning. As educators, we are able to begin laying the foundations of literacy regardless of their age. Reading books to kids is a fun way to introduce the skills needed to begin to learn how to read. So what are ways we can make the most of our reading experiences to provide the most benefit?

Let’s look at some tips and strategies we can use.

  • Reading aloud to kids should be part of a daily routine. Begin with shorter books and time, as children get older and their attention spans grow we can spend more time on this activity. Allow the kids to select the book to read, this will get the kids involved in the process.
  • When reading to kids, use a technique called dialogue reading. Dialogue reading involves talking about what is being read. Use the text and illustrations to talk about what is happening in the story and on the page. This will help the child make connections, explore, and explain what is happening in the story.
  • To make the read-aloud experience more enjoyable and beneficial, make it interactive. Show emotion, use different voices, incorporate actions, engage the senses, point out pictures, and allow the students to participate and interact with the story. Another article in this newsletter dives further into what interactive read-alouds are, their benefits, and how to incorporate them into the daily routine.
  • Read the same book over and over again. Children love to jump in to “read” their favorite parts of the book back to you, based on their memory of the story. Studies have shown that reading the same book multiple times can help children develop language skills and improve reading comprehension.
  • When reading aloud slide your finger under the words from left to right as you read with fluency using somewhat exaggerated expressions. Finger-point reading helps children make voice-to-print connections, which is very important in the literacy process. When reading to kids, be sure to define new words that they do not know. Explain a few of the words before beginning to read the book. Each time you re-read the book, you can explain different new words. This will help build the children’s vocabulary.

No matter what tips or strategies you use when reading to kids, the most important thing is to make it fun and interactive. It will lay the foundation for literacy learning and is one of the most important tasks an early childhood educator can do.

 

For the main article Best Practices When Reading with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE

For the article What are Interactive Read-Alouds?, CLICK HERE

For the article What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?, CLICK HERE

March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children

As early childhood educators, placing our young students on the path to literacy is one of our more important tasks. Learning to read begins as early as babies when they hear and respond to the human voice. Supporting oral language development in babies and toddlers will help with literacy learning down the road. Children need to hear and understand spoken language to begin their steps toward literacy. Becoming aware of the different sounds of the language, and learning about letters and words in print is the foundation for learning how to read and write. As our students get older we are able to introduce more foundations of literacy by reading books with them.

Reading to children is one of the best activities in promoting literacy in young children. As ECE professionals, we are developing the skills that act as the foundation for literacy. When we share books with very young children we support emerging literacy. We help children learn that pictures and words are symbols that can be interpreted, children are exposed to new words, increasing their vocabulary, and we help children familiarize themselves with the conventions of print in our language. This lays the foundation for learning to read.

In this month’s newsletter, we will discuss best practices when reading aloud to children. We will give tips and strategies to use when reading aloud, and discuss what interactive read-alouds are and how they can be used in the classroom. We will also explore what families can do to support literacy development at home and delve into what developmentally appropriate literacy learning in preschools looks like. In this month’s blog, we will also discuss how we can use our reading times as opportunities to reach multi-language learners and culturally diverse classrooms.

 

For the article Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE

For the article What are Interactive Read-Alouds?, CLICK HERE

For the article What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?, CLICK HERE