In a day’s work as a preschool teacher, I hear many sounds. Starting from the moment they enter the classroom, I hear their clambering footsteps and their high-pitched enthusiastic voices. Halfway into the day, I could discern the scratching of colored pencils against paper, the flapping pages of paperback books and the clicking sounds of legos being stacked in what might seem as a perpetuating symphony of creative energies. Then, the clock signals 12: 40 and the children leave for home, yet the room never stays quiet. Even in the midst of the busy morning commotion, there is one voice that strikes true in my ears, the classroom. Yes, the classroom does in fact speak and you need only to listen carefully.
While as teachers we are the primary source of knowledge and information for our
students, we are not their only mentors. The classroom can serve as their secondary teacher and can provide the children with an endless boundary of learning opportunities even more than we could offer in 5 lessons. IB PYP has emphasized the importance of learning centers in the classroom. However, what does it truly mean to have different learning areas in classroom? Isn’t there only one learning space? I came across this challenge in the beginning of the school year when setting up my new KG classroom. I remembered asking myself, “What could we possibly do in a 4 meter by 8 meter rectangular space?” I was inspired to transform my classroom.
In any preschool classroom setting, there is always bound to be a play area. This should not simply be a space filled with random knick-knacks and toys. This should be an area where children can openly express their imagination, engage in meaningful play collaborations with their peers and practice their critical thinking or problem-solving skills. Thus, we set on the idea of the home and construction learning center. As it is called, the children may feel right at home in the “home corner” where they may take part in enriching imaginative play (e.g. cooking, family role-playing, etc.). Simultaneously, they have the option to engage in solitary play in the construction area interacting with the blocks, legos, and puzzles.
Moreover because creativity is such a critical component of the PYP attitudes, I decided the children need a venue to display their creative perspectives of the world. Hence, we’ve created an art gallery in which they are free to explore and manipulate different materials and resources for their unique masterpieces. In these creative pursuits, it is not unlikely that the children also are exposed to an emergent literacy experience. Aside from the occasional messes, it is a win-win situation in both cases.
Of course, the classroom would not be complete without a mini-library. Designating a space where the children may participate in a quiet reading activity (whether independent or guided) offers a balanced classroom atmosphere. While a vibrant learning space is essential, a quieter area in the room helps promote balanced and healthy emotional regulation in children.
From this classroom set-up experience, I realized that renovation is never a simple and single event. It requires continuous revisions and modifications. However, once the classroom finally obtains its “’voice of learning,” learning will never be silent.
By Daisy Novianty Homeroom Teacher Grade KG GMIS-Bali