I came across the article “Should all classrooms be like kindergarten classrooms?” today and couldn’t help but be inspired.
The author addresses the fact that kindergarten classrooms are “spilling over with exploration and discovery. Kindergarten classrooms beam with pride as kids put their best efforts forward to please their teachers and expand their knowledge of the world.”
He also says this:
“Some of the students have never been in an environment where there is structure and organization. Some of the students have never had to walk in a line and some have never been in a public restroom without the assistance of their parents and/or guardians.
In spite of the before-mentioned dynamics, Kindergarten classrooms are really magical places where kids are able to collaboratively and independently create and design. Kids move like a well-oiled machine from one center to the next with very little if any teacher direction. These students, most of whom have never been a part of such madness, are able to find structure and are able to be trusted to do the right thing. ”
What he is saying rings so true. In order to feel secure enough to explore, create and cooperate, children must be given a solid structure so that they feel secure enough to do these things.
The same is true at home, too.
Say you ask your child to clean up their playroom. There are toys everywhere, yet it’s not really clear where they go. Maybe dress-up clothes get vaguely piled in a corner, or books get stacked next to the couch. However, it really isn’t obvious at all.
Yet, sometimes we need the obvious.
When I’m in a new place, I feel so much more secure when there are cues in the environment telling me what to expect. Even something as simple as the closing time of a store marked on the front door is comforting. If it says that they close at 6pm and it’s 5:55pm, it’s better to know that I should probably not go in, rather than entering and having the employee kick me out after five minutes.
In so many situations, knowledge is power.
When your child knows that books get placed in the book basket that sits next to the couch and that they live there at all times, it’s a little easier to complete the task of cleaning up books – rather than just guessing and maybe being wrong.
In Kindergarten classrooms, structure is the foundation of comfort – knowing what goes where, what comes next, and what is expected.
So – how can you do this at your home?
Written Charts and Signs
I’m not saying that your home has to have as much signage as a kindergarten classroom – but why not post something on the fridge that offers information for you to review with your child? It could be anything from a list of expectations to a checklist for your nightly routine. (I like this one because it is simple and you can fill in what works best for your family.)
Be sure to keep it super simple – don’t list expectations if you are not able to follow through with them.
A Place for Everything
Kindergarteners have a place for their coats, library books, lunches and folders. What is something in your home that doesn’t have a designated space – but should? Clear some space for it and discuss the desired outcome with your child. You could even ask them to color a sign to label it!
Encourage Independence by Making It Easy
Do you expect your children to wash their hands before a meal? Make sure that a stool to reach the sink is available, as well as soap and clean towels.
Want your children to wipe up their own spills? Make sure that towels are available – and that the kids know where they are. Make sure that there’s a designated spot for used towels, as well.
While your home isn’t a kindergarten classroom, it is a space where all kinds of learning happens. By optimizing your space so that it addresses your family’s needs and goals, you and your kids will begin to find peace in the day-to-day experiences that we call life.