We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Preschool teacher = superhero in our book! Preschool classroom management takes a special talent each day. You must be highly organized and creative, with excellent time management and multitasking skills. Not to mention softer skills you have in spades, from an endless well of patience to your obvious respect for young children and their families. Let's face it: Preschool classroom management isn't something the average human could handle.
Whether you’re new to the profession or you’re a seasoned vet, you know that the key to a successful day at preschool is effective management of your classroom! Putting careful effort into how you set up and organize both your physical space and your systems will ensure that both you and your students make the most of your valuable time together.
The way you use your physical space is important. Your floorplan will not only reflect your teaching style (do your children work in small groups, or are you largely play-based?), but can even help with discipline and managing children’s behaviors. Make sure there is a good flow throughout your room, and think carefully about the space those little bodies need for transitions. Where will they line up? Is there room in the cubby area to put jackets on? Can they wait in line to wash their hands before snack without disrupting students in the reading nook? You want your room optimized for maximum engagement time in learning activities.
Materials and Supplies
Another big consideration is organization of the materials and supplies you’ll use throughout the day. A big part of a preschooler’s day is managing access to the equipment they need. Can they easily slide out the dramatic play bin? And can they just as easily put it back when they are done with it? Autonomy in tasks like these have a two-fold benefit: Your little ones will be proud they can accomplish tasks on their own, and you won’t have to clean up after them! A few pro-tips in this realm: Use clear storage containers, so kids can see what’s inside. And use a labeling system they can understand: use either picture labels or color code your bins and shelves so they know where things go.
Part of what makes you a superhero is your admirable commitment to take on what is a daunting task to mere mortals: spending your day with 20+ children and living to tell about it! Another cornerstone to successful preschool classroom management is putting clear behavior expectations in place and enforcing and communicating them in a kind, consistent manner. We won’t go into discipline specifics here, since every teacher/school has their own philosophy, but some guidelines hold true whatever your style is. Have a behavior management plan in place, and write it down, whether your school requires you to or not. This exercise will help you think through your own personal beliefs in connection to your discipline plan. And always remember that any challenging behavior you witness, especially in such young children, is the child attempting to communicate something. Think of it this way: It is your job to uncover and address the root cause of a student’s “problem” behavior.
Record Keeping & Parent Communication
Your little community of learners is accomplishing amazing stuff every day. All day! Watching your students grow and gain new skills is one of the greatest joys of your job--a privilege, even, right? But let’s face it: It’s not easy to capture all of these tiny, important moments. What you really need is a system to track activities, behaviors, observations, even photos. You guessed it: There’s an app for that! Brightwheel is an easy-to-use mobile app for recording and tracking daily events and activities in the classroom. The best part is it also serves as a great way to communicate with parents. The app provides your families real-time updates delivered to their mobile device throughout the day. You can even snap photos and send them to parents right inside the app. Brightwheel also offers secure, digital check-in/check-out, and an automated paperless billing system as well--which your director or administrator would love, too!