First impressions really set the tone and can affect things such as student behavior and open parent communication. Make sure your classroom is ready when welcoming new children, joining a classroom, or welcoming children and families every day. Keep in mind, they might be nervous or unsure about what to expect. Children and families want to be valued and appreciated. Here are a few tips when welcoming children and families using the five senses to guide the classroom environment:
- Sight-see classroom
- Walk out of the room and walk back in. If you were a parent or child seeing it would you immediately feel comfortable?
- Make sure supplies (ex. Tissues) are put at children level.
- Set up learning centers with a few engaging toys and materials. Make sure toys are easily accessible.
- Clean and well-organized room
- Lighting can make a difference. Make sure there is enough light in the room.
- Decorate the wall make sure its age appropriate, updated, not falling off, and both at adult and child level.
- Create a parent bulletin board with helpful updated information on it.
- Display photos of the children and their families already in care.
- Have cubbies, labels, and schedule ready.
- Smell-scent of the classroom
- Walk in to fresh smells (not diaper smells, etc.).
- Make sure smells are not too strong that it would trigger a negative reaction from an adult or child.
- Sound-of the classroom
- Music playing: Is it appropriate for the children and adults? That is, is it too loud and washes out the children or just loud enough to be heard?
- Can you hear children crying or adults yelling down the hall or outside of the classroom? These occurrences can set mood of your classroom.
- Silent elevator: Is the classroom so quiet that you could hear a pen drop?
- Touch-different textures and interactions in the classroom
- Having different textures throughout the room for children to explore.
- Have staff interacting with the children in care.
- Taste-is the room clean enough
- Make sure the floor is swept and not sticky.
- Make sure the counter is not full of dirty dishes or toys.
- Make sure the toys in the environment are safe and undamaged.
When welcoming children and families to your classroom, make sure to greet them with a smile and a soft gentle voice. Offer warm greetings and learn the family’s names. Greet the adults and the child, no matter what the age. Ask simple questions about their night before, not drilling questions. At departure, take time to talk with the different families, explaining each child’s day. Giving feedback opens the lines of communication with families. As caregivers, knowing that your classroom is a place where students should feel comfortable to learn and take risks gives you an added bonus right from the start. Additionally, make sure to use the five senses tips to guide the classroom environment daily, you will now have a classroom that screams out “Welcome to our learning environment”!
Heather Gordon, Infant/Toddler Specialist
If you would like more information on how toys support development, contact Heather at 815-484-9442 Ext: 228
Zero to Three https://www.zerotothree.org/
Raising Children http://raisingchildren.net.au/
Heather Gordon | Infant Toddler Child Care Specialist