The back-to-school season provides early care educators with the chance to practice their self-reflection skills. This professional practice provides an opportunity to build on strengths, make improvements, and prevent issues from occurring in the environment.
Let’s take a look at a few questions you can ask yourself as you begin a new school year:
- What do I know about the children in my group? What are their interests, skills, and abilities? What steps do I need to take to find out this information?
- What areas of the daily routine worked well last year? Which parts of the routine seemed to cause problems for me or the children? Can I add a transition activity or rearrange the routine in any way to address problem areas?
- Does the arrangement of the classroom define interest areas? Is it easy to navigate? Are traffic areas clear? Are quiet areas separated from active areas? Are work spaces and their storage areas obvious? Are builders protected? Are there blind spots?
- Are the interest areas arranged to promote play and cooperation? Are the interest areas organized or cluttered? Are there enough materials for several children to play without causing competition for materials? Do I need to add multiple items (i.e. more than one shiny red truck)? Are the areas easy to clean up?
- Which areas of the classroom did children enjoy the most last year? What materials seemed to engage the children the most?
- Which interest areas were not used as much as others? Are there different materials that I could add to promote engagement in these areas?
- Are the classroom expectations (rules) phrased in simple language? Do the expectations communicate what children are expected to do? How can I engage the children in the creation of the classroom expectations?
- Am I prepared to collect observations about the new children entering my program? What methods and materials will I use to collect my observations? How can my coworker(s) and I work together to gather information about children’s skills and abilities? How will I organize the data I collect?
- Do the decorations, toys, and materials represent gender-neutral roles? Show people with disabilities in a positive light? Promote cultural diversity? What do I need to add to accomplish this?
- What are some new topics I would like to explore with children this year? How can I incorporate more of the children’s interests into the curriculum this year?
- How will I build classroom community between the children in my group? See the CCEI August Newsletter for more information.