Rand (2011) states that “I just finished teaching a graduate course in whichthe students each visited six different early childhood classrooms.
When theygave reports to the class about what was interesting and what they learned fromeach of the classrooms, the physical environment was the most frequentlymentioned – in both positive and negative ways. The physical environment isquite a challenge because there is only so much that a teacher can change, yetit has an enormous effect on children’s behavior. In my own observations ofclassrooms, I’ve noticed that one of the big problems is the group meetingarea.
Here are some of my suggestions for preventing behavior problems duringgroup time, and helping children stay engaged: 1. Enough Space. Don’tlet a small rug determine the size of your meeting space! I’ve seen thirdgraders sitting so close they couldn’t help touching each other.
I’ve seenwriggling preschoolers continually bump into each other because the rug was toosmall. Determine how big a circle you need so that all your children can sitwithout touching each other and still see you. Then get a rug, or carpetsquares, or two rugs, or be creative in delineating the space you need. Istrongly prefer children sitting around the edge of the space rather than in rows. 2.
Personal Space. Make sure each child can determinewhere their personal space is. Either use carpet squares, use patterns embeddedin the carpet, make lines with tape, or systematically teach children how tosit so they have personal space. This would need to be done repeatedly withfrequent modeling and reinforcement. 3. Teacher Materials.
Have a place to store or put your ownmaterials that you’ll need for activities: white board, audio player, books,charts, etc. Make it clear what is your space and remind children of your ownpersonal boundaries. 4.
Consistent Procedures. If you let a couple of children sit onchairs one day, then the next day other children will want to! There may begood reasons to allow a child to sit on a chair rather than the rug, but thinkthis through ahead of time, explain it to the children, and be consistent. Youmay want to have all children sitting on the rug, no matter what. Again, theimportant issue is preventing your group time from being derailed by childrenmoving around, asking for chairs, getting up, etc.”