Classroom Environment (Solutions 5 and 6)

24 Oct

We’ve hit the halfway mark on the top-ten list! When I started thinking about writing-up this next solution, it made some sense to me to combine it with another. Both have to do with the classroom and the classroom environment. I know many of you aren’t teachers, but as parents involved in your child’s school, I think much of the following may be of interest. So today’s post is a two for one…..Solution 5: Adjust Physical Environment & Solution 6: Creating a Sense of Community.

The first of the two solutions – Adjusting the Physical Environment – is a pretty simple concept. If the goal is to increase contact between boys and girls, we should examine what contributes to drawing them apart. When it comes to young children, sometime the polarizing factors are pretty concrete. Certain toys or activities may attract some but not others. Different areas of the classroom may draw different crowds. But by adjusting the physical environment, we can encourage peers to mix it up more.

In the classroom, you may notice that the girls find the teddy bear math counters appealing, while the dinosaur figures attract the attention of the boys. So what would happen if you mixed the two manipulative bins into one? You may find that mixing the supplies brings a new mix of kids together to explore at the math center. If you’re noticing that the boys in the room tend to gather around the building toys while the girls explore the play kitchen, perhaps by placing the areas closer together you can bring the kids closer. There are many creative ways to arrange supplies and materials to help children integrate ideas for play. In addition, organizing classroom materials to encourage children with different interests to play in closer proximity will help to encourage more engagement among peers who are not naturally drawn to each other.

The second solution related to classroom environment has to do with creating a sense of community. Strategies that help celebrate what makes each child unique, special and an important part of the whole contribute to creating a positive classroom learning environment. When we organize our classrooms by gender (i.e. lining kids up by boys and girls), we send the message to kids that they are very different and this is very important. However, if we focus on individuals’ characteristics and interests, we can heighten awareness of commonalities. If you ask kids to line up according to the number of siblings they have (as opposed to which gender they belong to), two important things happen. First, kids receive the message that you, and the rest of the class, find their personal story important and interesting. Second, kids learn something about their classmates and discover what they may have in common with each other.

So those are my thoughts for today….Changes in the environment, whether physical or behavioral, can help to encourage boys and girls to engage more and in more positive ways.

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