17 October, 2010

Adjust the environment, not the child

I am always trying to fix up my classroom environment.  If I am having behavioral problems among the students, I try to adjust the environment, so that whatever the behavior at issue is, it will be less likely to occur.

Case in point:

I have been having a wee bit of trouble with my class.  Some of them flit from activity to activity more than I would like them to, and they sometimes seem to have trouble finding and focussing on something that really interests them.  I do feel this problem can frequently present itself when dealing with young children at the beginning of their school careers, especially when they are given all the options of a new classroom.  That's why I usually begin each school year with my classroom looking a bit sparse.  I add activities and works as the children settle into the school routine.  It seems however, I may have added in too much too soon, so this weekend I am cleaning out and reorganizing.  I am putting away some of the more specific work items, and instead leaving out more open ended items such as blocks.  I hope that in limiting some of the options, I will encourage the children to use some of what is out, more imaginatively.

I am also replacing the small tables that are in various locations around the room, with one large table set up.  I hope that in doing this, our snack can become more of a family meal atmosphere.  Previously the children sat on the floor.  That worked out fairly well, except at least one child knocked over his or her glass of water, every day.  Then in order to clean it up, that child had to step over everyone else - trying not to spill others' waters - to get a towel.  I do teach the children how to mop up spilled water, so when they do spill, I ask them to take care of it (well, most of it anyway) by themselves.  But if they are spilling more water along the way, that doesn't work out so well.

Please look at these pictures of my current classroom set up, and tell me what you think.  Have you had this "flitting about" problem with your children or students?  What did you do?  I am very open to any and all ideas!  Thank you!

dish washing
open plan house area
small writing nook
large sitting area

new "dining table"
block area

So what do you think?  Thank you!


  1. I'm kind of wondering where the Montessori materials are. . .you haven't shown a PL area, which to me would be the most important area. Personally I don't like the huge middle table. I have had large tables before and they just cause more disruption. I've replaced my 4-person tables to 1 and 2 person tables. Why don't you have individual snack with 2-4 children at a time? Our snack table has room for two, with cloth placemats, and a flower to say when snack is open. The children help to make snack and serve themselves, and wash up afterwards. My other thought would be to remove the block area and the house corner. I've never seen these areas in a Montessori class before. I had a small basket of blocks on the shelf for the new children, but as soon as they stopped being chosen I removed them. It took about 3 weeks.

    Children who are flitting about maybe haven't had enough lessons. I have a few of those myself, but unfortunately they are my older kids. I need to give them more lessons.

    Lastly - why do they play with toys for half an hour when they arrive? Why don't they just come in and start working in the environment? I would think the toys would cause some disruption and unfocused attention which may then continue on into the morning. If your reasoning is circle time, then don't have a morning circle, just have one at the end of the morning.

    Hope this helps a bit. Good luck!

  2. Thank you for your comments, Linda! I guess I need to clarify that I am not a certified Montessori teacher not do I teach in a Montessori school. I am so inspired by Maria Montessori's work, and I use Montessori materials whenever I can, but I also love some aspects of Waldorf and some aspects of Reggio Emilia as well. A lovely thing about our program is that the teachers can combine different aspects of these approaches.

    I hope the big table doesn't create more disruption. I did have smaller tables until yesterday, but some of my littler ones were being a little silly and falling out of their chairs. I hope by having a family meal type atmosphere with a teacher at the head of the table we can enjoy some community time.

    I will let you know how everything goes! Thanks again!


Thank you for your comments. They are always much appreciated. : )