Welcoming children to a safe environment is critical to their early development. As an early childhood educator, you have the greatest commitment of shaping young minds. Part of that commitment is making sure your children are safe and secure so they can focus on learning and having fun! Feeling safe is not only essential to children’s learning, but to their mental health as well. When children feel safe, they have better opportunities to grow academically, emotionally, and socially.
- Tips to create a safe learning environment
- How to create a welcoming space for children
- Upcoming trainings
Creating a Safe Learning Space:
Here are some tips on how to implement a safe learning environment in your classroom:
Define classroom rules and expectations. Expectations are the ways you would like children to behave, where rules are our way of communicating to children how to meet these expectations. For example, one classroom expectation might include, Be safe. A classroom rule to communicate how to “be safe” could include, Use walking feet. You may develop expectations, rules, or both. However, try to remember young children are still developing their thinking skills, so it’s important to:
- Keep the rules and expectations short and simple.
- State the rules and expectations positively.
- Post the rules and expectations along with pictures.
Follow a consistent daily routine. Not only will creating routines help you manage all there is for you to accomplish throughout your busy school days, but it also provides children with the much-needed structure they need. Consistent routines are one of the best strategies for avoiding behavior management issues as well. Using a visual schedule in the classroom daily can help children understand and learn the routine that will be followed throughout the day. Try to:
- Place the visual schedule in an easy location for children to refer to throughout the day.
- Review all the upcoming planned activities with children daily.
- Point to the routine and provide verbal instructions (such as, It’s time for circle time.)
- Provide positive reinforcement for children following and completing routines independently (such as, Great job for coming to circle time.)
Create a sense of belonging. Children need to feel connected and welcomed for them to feel respected, confident, and have a sense of trust. Building strong and positive relationships with children and their families can create this sense of belonging. Building these positive relationships can include:
- Spending one-on-one time with children so you can learn more about each other.
- Developing an interest in their interests and including them in learning activities.
- Posting children’s work around the classroom.
- Getting to know children’s families and welcoming them into the classroom.
How to create a welcoming environment for all children:
- Add wall art, books, and visuals that show students of various identities (racial, gender, religious, etc.), geographies, or family structures.
- Utilize curriculum that celebrates multiple racial identities and is not white-centric. If you teach or work with primarily white students, it is critically important that you feature and actively include students and stories from multiple racial identities in your curriculum.
- Incorporate physical and emotional safety in your learning space, swiftly addressing bullying, teasing, and other harmful actions.
Additionally, consider these ways to create an environment where children feel respected:
- Provide equally high expectations of all students, no matter their racial identity, socioeconomic status, or other factors.
- Give equal opportunity for students to use their voices and contribute to classroom discussions.
- Offer a culture that encourages students to listen to what their peers have to say.
Our team can help your program by providing technical assistance in person, virtually, and on the phone for teachers in the areas of lesson planning, room arrangement, challenging behavior, and much more. To request technical assistance, click here, then click Request TA at the top and your Child Care Aware of Central Virginia specialists will help you!
- We are always adding training opportunities to our calendar. Visit our page to see what we have coming soon.
- Blog: Teaching Young Children Empathy: 3 Simple Steps
- Video: What is Child Care Aware of Central Virginia?
- Blog: Words Have Power
Written by: Dominique Harris, Trauma & Resiliency Specialist, and Patricia Koon, Outreach and Recruitment Supervisor.