By Kelli Harris
I recently watched a webinar on setting up intentional preschool classroom displays. Although most of the information was not new to me, it provided me with some new things to think about when I look inside a classroom.
First of all, what does it mean to be intentional and why is that important?
For childcare providers, this means that you understand why you are doing something, such as arranging your classroom a certain way or planning an activity with a certain objective in mind. When you can meet children’s needs, children will be able to develop and grow. Teachers should ensure that their classroom environment is safe. For example, you should not use staples to display items in an infant or toddler classroom where a child could find one and stick it in their mouth.
The presenter talked about how you should think about the environment as the teacher by making sure what you display in the classroom is intentional. You can start by asking yourself the following reflective questions- “What type of message is my classroom environment sending to children?”, “Do I have too little or too much displayed in the classroom?”, and “What purpose is this serving?”
The presenter suggested that if you have too much displayed in your classroom, with very little wall space, it could be over-stimulating for some children. Grouping like things together can create an eye-catching display, rather than having the classroom displayed with random items. The presenter also suggested allowing the children’s individualized artwork to be the “color” of the room, rather than a plethora of pre-made/commercially produced posters and display items. She stated that having the children’s artwork displayed and also pictures of the children (and also their families and pets) give them a sense of purpose and makes them feel special. She also stressed the importance of making sure all children are represented in the classroom displays.
She also discussed figuring out whether the display items in your classroom are decorations or resources. She stated that if it is not placed at children’s eye level, it is a decoration. Resources are displayed items that can be used for discussion or have a planned purpose behind them.
One final thing she discussed about displaying items (and something I honestly didn’t think much about) was “What type of message is my classroom environment sending to families?” I always think of the environment as most important for the children, but she notes that where you display items for families also matters. If you want parents/guardians to see a representation of the work that the children are doing, make sure it is in a place where people look. If the cubbies are right by the door for easy drop off and pick up, but you are displaying children’s items all the way across the classroom, the likelihood that the parents are going to go over and actually look at those items is pretty small. I thought these were some great tips!