Creating Engaging Language Learning Experiences for Children
Creating Good Language Learning Environments for Children
Research suggests that a high-quality classroom environment can help close the achievement gap. That is, children who enter school less ready to learn are those that benefit the most from supportive classroom environments.
A supportive environment is:
- Well-organized: orderly, planned and safe.
- Dependable: a stable “home base” for children who need it.
- Flexible: able to adjust to meet the needs of different children.
Such supportive environments send children a variety of positive messages about their learning, such as:
- This is a good place to be.
- You belong here.
- You can trust this place.
- There are places where you can be by yourself when you want to be.
- You can do many things on your own here.
- This is a safe place to explore and try out your ideas.
There are 10 common interest areas recommended for pre-schoolers. These include:
- Blocks: Great block areas contain a variety of materials to spark curiosity and exploration. Children use the block area to explore how things work; they build, tear down, fill, dump, stretch, reach, balance and create.
- Dramatic Play: The dramatic play area allows children to take on roles and try out new ideas. Children use their imaginations as they cooperate with one another, and they practice self-care skills as they try on dress-up clothes.
- Toys and Games: Toys and games allow children to develop important thinking skills, social skills, and fine motor skills (the ability to use hands and fingers well).
- Art: The art area provides opportunities for children to express themselves and develop fine motor skills. Visual art can include painting, drawing and sculpturing. This is a space for inspiration and creativity.
- Library: The library is a quiet space where children can relax and enjoy reading. A great library includes a variety of books: fiction, nonfiction, alphabet books, number books, nursery rhymes and resource books. It typically includes soft furniture or pillows. Books can be displayed on shelves or in baskets for easy access.
- Discovery: The discovery area is children’s gateway to scientific exploration. It contains materials meant for open-ended exploration. A wide variety of natural materials are often displayed for children to explore (rocks, pinecones, starfish, etc.).
- Sand and water: Sand and water areas provide opportunities for measuring, pouring, comparing and creating. Although the space is called “sand and water,” you are not limited to providing just sand and water.
- Music and movement: A space for children to engage in large movements allows them to make their own music and respond to the music of others.
- Cooking: The cooking area lets children practice real-life skills and is a great way to introduce a variety of cultures to the classroom. By preparing simple recipes with an adult, children learn important math, literacy and self-care skills.
- Computers: Many preschool classrooms provide computers for children to use. The use of computers, or other technology and media (e.g., tablets), can provide developmentally appropriate learning opportunities to children of a variety of ages.