Creating a warm classroom for young learners

We frequently get asked about setting up classrooms for young learners.  I’d like to share some photos from Brit’s English in Okayama, Japan.  When owner Jamie Marden decided to build a new school, he set aside one classroom to be his “Super Simple Songs” room (thanks Jamie!) for children 2-6 years old.

Notice how uncluttered the room is.  Young children love to explore and will grab anything they can get their hands on.  Occasionally teachers or parents will scold a young child for not paying attention or for grabbing and touching things around the room.  The child, however, is just being a child!  Curiosity is a good thing!

If you are teaching a once- or twice-a-week class and you would like your students to focus as much as possible on the classroom activities, it’s important to reduce the amount of distractions in the classroom.  When there are fewer distractions, the child will be more likely to join in the class activities. Children love to sing and play, but it’s natural for a young child to wander off and explore something else if there are many things for them to touch in the classroom.  If you need to store a lot of things in the classroom, try to make sure they are stored out of reach and/or out of sight.

If you are in more of a kindergarten or preschool setting and the chlidren stay at school for longer periods of time, you’ll want to have more things for students to explore and discover and play creatively with.  You’ll have more time to teach the students about when it is okay for them to play on their own, and when it is time to play with the group.

A non-cluttered classroom does not mean a boring classroom!  Look how bright and warm Jamie’s classroom is, and he accomplished that with just one colorful carpet and some Super Simple Songs picture cards and Super Simple Phonics picture cards.  It certainly helps to have windows and sunshine and a beautiful new school like Brit’s English, but any classroom can be brightened up with some simple, colorful images and a fun carpet.

Last, notice the space they have left for the children to sing and dance and play in.  No desks.  One small table that can be pulled out for crafts or snacktime when needed.  You can imagine how fun and active the classes are there!  You don’t need a tremendous amount of space to make a classroom feel spacious.

Our classrooms here at Knock Knock English are quite small, but because there are no desks or tables, the room feels large and there is plenty of space for children to move around and interact with the songs.  When we do need a table for the older students, we roll it in to the classroom.

What do you think?  We’d love to hear your classroom ideas and pictures are always welcome!

Just remember…Keep It Super Simple!!!