Life is made up of many pieces, like a puzzle. Here I attempt to put them all together.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Establishing Learning Centers

There are two points to consider when planning a learning environment that includes learning centers.

1. How will it be customized to include the learning styles of each participant?

2. How will the planned activities and the child's environment compliment one another?

Typical learning centers to consider are blocks, housekeeping, art/writing, table toys (manipulatives), sensory table, library, music, science and computers. Life skills, social skills, risk taking, and responsibility with freedom are important lessons children are learning while using centers and interacting with each other. Children should feel that this is a place where they can trust and feel safe.

There are a number of points to consider when setting up learning centers.

1. Separate noisy areas from quiet areas.

2. Each area should be clearly defined. Children need to know where the boundaries are for the toys that belong in each learning center. Traffic patterns should naturally flow in a way that keeps children from interrupting each other and also discourage running.

3. There should be enough space in/at each learning center for more than one child to play comfortably.

4. Resources near each play area should be relevant to that area.

5. Ensure that caregivers can clearly see into each area.

6. Each learning center should be accessible to each child regardless of handicaps or disabilities.

7. There should be plenty of storage for the supplies needed in each learning center so that the children are able to keep things reasonably neat without too much difficulty.

When setting up learning centers remember that this does have to be expensive. Dividers can be created by hanging a curtain, or by putting up and office cubicle divider. Art shelves can be made from inexpensive materials or purchased second hand. Just remember to make sure surfaces are washable.

An organized and properly arranged environment makes it easier for children to choose constructive activities. An organized environment also makes it easier for the children to play in an orderly way and to keep their surroundings neater. Some things to remember are to makes sure all toys and materials have their own storage space. Make sure items are within easy reach of the children and are easy to put away again. Ensure that the learning centers are easy to get in and out of.

Pay attention to what children play with a lot and what they seem to be losing interest in. Often even minor changes to the learning center, such a slight rearranging, or a few inexpensive new toys or supplies can spark new interest.

Learning centers are a fun and creative way to give children a learning experience customized to their needs and interests. I hope this article has given you some inspiration in creating learning centers for the children in your care.

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