We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Preschool teacher = superhero in our book! It takes a special talent to manage a preschool classroom. 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 preschoolers and their families.
Whether you’re new to preschool classrooms or a seasoned vet, you know that the key to a successful day is an effective preschool classroom management plan. Putting careful effort into how you set up and organize your physical space, supplies, and systems will ensure that both you and your students make the most of your valuable time together.
1. Choose the optimal classroom layout
The way you use physical space in your preschool classroom is important. Your floor plan 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 behavior. Make sure there is a good flow throughout your classroom, 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? 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 preschool learning activities.
2. Manage your classroom supplies & materials
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 preschool classroom management pro-tips: 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.
3. Set clear behavior expectations
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+ preschoolers and living to tell about it! The secret to your success is setting clear behavior expectations and enforcing and communicating them in a kind, consistent manner. We won’t go into preschool discipline strategies 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 for your preschool 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.
4. Use technology to streamline your day
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 preschool 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 preschool director or administrator would love, too!
It's not easy to manage an early childhood classroom, but a classroom management plan can go a long way in helping make that job easier. We hope this guide has given you some ideas on how to successfully manage your preschool classroom.
Brightwheel is everything you need for your preschool or daycare, in one simple app. Download it today!