May 2023 Newsletter – Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments: Active Supervision

Active Supervision

The most important way that caregivers can ensure children are safe is through active supervision. To achieve active supervision, the Office of Head Start recommends the following actions:

Set Up the Environment – Furniture should be arranged in a way that allows adults to supervise all areas of the room.  Shelves with clear or open backs can help reduce blind spots in the classroom. Avoid blocking areas of the classroom with tall furniture.  Learning areas should be organized and free from clutter to allow adults to move in and out of spaces with ease.

Position Staff – When considering room arrangement, think about the placement of tables where teachers will work with small groups of children.  These tables should be arranged so that the teacher can choose the seat at the table that allows the best view of the whole classroom.  Teachers should position themselves in different areas of the environment, allowing them to see all areas of the room or playground.

Scan and Count – Constantly scanning the environment allows teachers to notice when issues arise.  When two or more adults are present, they should work out a plan for who is going to maintain a general scan and who is going to manage the planned activity.  If both teachers are working with individual children, supervision of the rest of the children becomes a challenge. Teachers should conduct regular headcounts and document the results per program policy.

Listen – In addition to visually scanning the environment, teachers should maintain their attention on the sounds of the classroom. Teachers should listen for changes in volume and tone, as well as suspiciously quiet moments!

Anticipate Children’s Behavior – As teachers get to know the children in the group, anticipating their needs and behaviors will become easier. Teachers will be able to note how different children interact with one another and the toys in the environment.  For example, a very popular toy may cause some competition in the classroom, and recognizing that can help teachers support children as they play.

Engage and Redirect – Teachers should spend lots of time engaged with children – not managing every aspect of their play, but being close by to answer questions, encourage cooperation, and help solve problems. Teachers should use redirection when necessary to maintain safety while allowing children to work out solutions on their own.

For more information, check out this resource from Head Start/ECLKC.


For the main article Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article General Indoor Safety Considerations, CLICK HERE

For the article General Playground Safety, CLICK HERE

For the article Maintaining Safety with Fresh Eyes, CLICK HERE