I wanted to touch base on a controversial issue in the classroom which is class size. Many people have argued that it just simply doesn’t matter how big classes are in preschool up to 5th grade. To me I have always felt like class size does matter for both teacher and student. I have worked in many situations from public schools to child care settings that offer private preschool and I have found that if the class keeps growing it not only stresses out teacher but also the children. Plus most of your time is focused on managing the class not teaching the class. A story that I use for parents is one of my past experiences when talking about too many children in a classroom. I had planned a wonderful art/ science activity for preschoolers in making a heart and seeing how it pumps the blood through your body. When I started the activity I had 10 children which was doable for me but towards the middle my class grew to 15 children. During this time, kids kept squeezing on the table knocking off work and some were running around touching walls while I tried to control table chaos. I closed the activity without it being done and sent the children to centers so I could clean. Not only was I frustrated over all the events, some of the children that really wanted to see the activity through were in tears wanting to finish. It was a sad morning for the classroom…… I did finish it during nap time as promised then shown the children the heart in its glory. I felt like if my class didn’t continue to grow and upset the rest of my class then my 10 students could have stayed engaged and finished the project themselves, I felt like they could have gotten more out of it.
With this past experience in my head I set out to search the web for papers and studies to back up my feelings about small class size. I found a wonderful site (http://www.classsizematters.org/research-and-links/ ) that had lots of links to different findings about class size mattering to preschool and kindergarten classes. My favorite one was Does Class Size Matter? by Schanzenbach, D.W. (http://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/207632499-Pb-Class-Size.pdf ) One thing in particular was how low income children excelled in smaller classes and some children followed up to 3rd grade had higher test scores in schools. It amazed me that this could be such a huge impact for children. Even though I knew the importance of this issue from my own personal accounts it still amazed me. I encourage everyone to look this research up and help the future classrooms stay in small ratio.
On a personal note I am super excited that our preschool offers lower class size as one of our many perks 🙂
So I had some time this week to get back on the computer and work my magic with the keyboard. Since opening my preschool I have had a lot of questions from family and friends about the look/layout of my preschool. I don’t think it would have been an issue but peoples’ curiosity was up due to the fact that I have a small apartment (basement style). And many people think of basement style cringing with what it might look like so I decided to write this blog to show people that small spaces can be achieved for preschool rooms. I have even found the space to be relaxing because children can not run through the area. Blessings to my ears:)
So without further ado here is my quick tutorial of how a small space can be a wonderful classroom—–
I struggled for a while with room arrangement. I needed it to look kid friendly but also like a learning center for parents. But how to squeeze 6 or 7 centers into a small living room space. I decided to not label the centers like you would in a pre-k class with a child care center or school district instead I found that the sky was the limit since I am a private pre-k. I made my brick area, which was around my entertainment center, into my reading nooks. I made a small car, lego, tool bench and animal area all in one, which did look nice after my initial “seriously what am I thinking” reaction. My dramatic play went into a corner area with a tent, kitchen set, and dress up clothes hanging on a coat rack within child’s reach. On the far side of my living room away from the nice size window I have I made small/large manipulative area, art, and music all in one. Below are some pictures to help you visualize my ideas:
Oh and I should mention that off to the side of my one reading nook the blue and green bucket has beans in it for the kids free play sensory area. As you can see in the pictures, I have used small furniture in order to give the room a larger feel to it. Ikea has these wonderfully small tables that I used in making this setup be at the child level.
My next hurtle was where they would eat and I have a very small dining room that feels more like a closet than a dining area. So what was the next logical step for us—- throw out the dining table and make the space into a welcoming area for the parents and a eating area for the children. My cubbies for children are located by the entrance in a nice corner area, along with the small child friendly level coat rack. on the other side I put a little sitting area using 2 of my living room chairs and my lovely plant that I have not killed yet. This area could be for a parent signing up or waiting for child to get their belongings at the end of the day. At the opposite corner of this area I set up a parent corner for menu, daily schedule, and weekly lesson plan. Right beside the parent corner I have placed rolled up beach mats for them to nap on. These are wonderful and can be found at Sam’s Club. My kids love them and they sleep on them really well. Plus the mats have a built in head rest which is a bonus for my kids.
Please forgive me for not showing the mat area but honestly I have not found a nice storage system for them yet. When I do I will definitely update everyone on what I found.
I hope you enjoyed my little tour and explanation of area space for a small (preschool) house setup. And I look forward to comments if any of this information helped you in setting up a small class or play area in your own home. I am posting one last picture on a child’s level because I just absolutely love the shot but outdoor space will be on a future blog…. until next time:)
Welcome to the first of many blog posts that I will be writing about preschool, my travels as a preschool teacher, and weekend photography. I wish I could say that my travels would include Egypt, Brazil, or heck even an exotic place like San Diego but no just the travels of my classroom and lovely, yet exquisite backyard. Before any of that can take place let me first let you in on a little secret. I hate punctuation!!!! Or it very well could be the other way around. But whatever the case might be this blog will ignite the flames of hatred towards me from those readers who may be English professors or wonderful people with a flair for proper grammar. With that in mind, I hope that many of you will look past this flaw and enjoy my blog.
Month 1 of opening my own preschool—
It has been an interesting look of a dream becoming a reality. I have always wanted to have my own personal classroom space with nothing getting messed up by kids due to lack of people not fully watching things going on around them. I bet many of you know the feeling to have worked on something for a long time (a week or even a month), hang it in the class, smile, and go home for the day. Upon returning to your classroom bright and early the next day your smile hits the floor because your famous artwork has been ripped. And it doesn’t matter if it was a corner sign for rules the outrage is out for whoever is close to see. Even though that might be comical to a lot of my fellow readers (and when I wrote this part I found myself chuckling at the comic strip imprinting on my brain) it is a disaster for my comrades in action…… my fellow teachers. So to have my own classroom—– What a dream!!!!!
A couple of weeks ago my dream became a reality when personal issues arose in my life making me take a hard look at my life. I can’t say it was an epiphany but it was pretty dang close (Oops slang word—sorry professors).
I hated what I saw and with my financial life on relaxation mode I figured today would be the day. I opened shop officially last week fulfilling my own classroom dream. The classroom is a small cozy room with an eating area off to the side. I have given up my living room and dining room for this endeavor but in time it will pay off. I have always loved teaching but now with less children and no constant brain anorism threatening to burst open from another shriek of a block crisis— I can say this is what teaching is about. To get really focused on one child and having time to reach the others before the day comes to a close is GREAT!!!! Now don’t get me wrong I still have block issues or Barbie wars to deal with but with a small class I am able to fully emerse myself into the class, making less wars among the smaller folk. Once again I am finding my love for teaching come back with a full force much like the force of Star Wars (only the good jedi force of course;) Finding my lesson plans and menus is enough to make my head spin every week but I am finding that I love this as well. My new kids are crazy, loving children with a knack for the dramatic, which helps me to stay grounded as a teacher. Let’s face it anyone who loves preschool is just a tad bit eccentric with a nice dramatic side hidden deep inside. So to have children that way allows me to focus on them pushing my diva side down. My goal is to post weekly about my ups and downs but it might turn into monthly posts as I am finding more things to check off of my to-do list. In any case this post was about the introduction of myself and setup of my dream.
I am not sure where this blog will lead but if it achieves my dream of writing then hey it wasn’t a total lost. My only hope is that this dream of mine can continue……… knowing that I made this blog to share, grow, and help my preschool reach others. So if you like this post and can’t wait for others to come or you just want to help me spread the word out then please help my blog sight flourish.