One my major takeaways from teaching in the classroom has to do with independent play. When I taught I had 18 to 20 kindergarten or first grade children. Classroom management was key and a huge part of that was setting up the  classroom space in a way that children felt welcomed and excited to engage with what they saw on the shelves. A welcoming space with easy access, that is visually appealing draws little ones in. So my first tip, know what drives your little one, what excites them and let them learn through it. If they love trains; learn to count trains,  talk about the colors, match the trains,  talk about what makes each train unique (attributes). 

Takeaway number 2. My approach or method. I discovered early on that one size fits all, doesn't fit all. 

Did I follow a certain method? No. I tried that and it was a mistake and didn't feel natural.  I found myself stuck and could see that some of my students felt the same way. 

Instead, I took time to know the children in my class and magically the classroom environment changed.

 Montessori was just one of the many methods I followed,  but more importantly I followed the child. This often resembled the Montessori approach. Which follows 5 principles: 

1. Children are shown respect. 

2. Kids have absorbent minds.

 3. Sensitive periods are critical for learning. 

4. Kids learn best in a prepared environment. 

5. Children can teach themselves through autoeducation (active exploration). 

Several other methods I love-

Kinesthetic learning-do, make, create 

Student Centered/Differentiated Instruction-Follow the child and find what excites them.

Inquiry-Based Learning through a Personal Model approach-Asking the child what they want to know and setting up the space so they can discover the answer themselves.  

Now that I am at home I have a mix of the above. 

Tip-I definitely use trays to make it easy for my little one to grab what she wants and to keep it somewhat organized. I used to rotate materials every week to every 2 weeks, now that she is older the materials stay longer and I rotate when I notice her interest level drop. 

Less is more and variety is key! You don't need fancy things,  keep it simple and buy secondhand or share with another mommy. 

Take time to go over the materials so that when the time comes, working independently is successful.  

As I mentioned above, follow your child and ask them about their interests.  I love to share things I love with my daughter,  but this space is to build independence. I want it to be all about her.

I would love to hear how you set up for independent play and remember if your little one does not play independently now, the time will come. It took my daughter awhile and actually I still play with her most of the day as I enjoy it,  but the materials are there for her to access independently when needed.

Closer Look!


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