When I taught preschool (I’m home with my five month old at the moment), I used January as my clean room month. Just as one would make resolutions in their everyday lives at the start of a new year, I would try to make them for my classroom as well. What did I want to do differently this year? What children really needed my focus and extra attention? How could I work better with my co-teachers?What changes to the classroom environment could I make? Did the environment affect the way the children played? communicated? behaved? How could I make the classroom more inviting? Do I have spaces in the room for quiet time? busy time? gross motor time? Are there places where children can get away from the stimulation like a cozy corner? Are materials easy to get at? labeled appropriately? developmentally appropriate?
I would make these lists for myself in those beginning weeks of the month and I would get out all of my environmental rating systems, as well as any inspirational books to help me “clean room”. This gave me a chance to really reorganize things, bring out new toys and materials, and make sure my classroom was representative of the children in it. Some teachers use the summer months or in my case the one week we were closed to clean house, but I really felt it was good practice to start fresh in January and then in those summer months as well. Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions in their lives, why not bring it to your work environment as well, creating a fresh child care environment for the New Year, for you, and for the children in your care.
I have several inspirational books and rating tools I always brought out when cleaning room. I have listed them below. Happy Cleaning!
- ECERS/ ITERS, Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale Revised (ECERS-R)
This was my favorite go-to tool for re-organizing and assessing my classroom. It comes with a worksheet that I would try to complete twice a year. It has health and safety standards as well as materials that should be out as well as how your room should be set up for optimum learning. (ECERS is for 2.5 year olds through kindergarten. ITERS is for Infant and Toddler care).
- Designs for Living and Learning: Transforming Early Childhood Environments, by Deb Curtis and Maggie Carter. I love Deb Curtis and Maggie Carter’s books! They are so inspirational and really get those creative teacher juices flowing. This book is a must for reorganizing your childcare environment.
- Learning Together with Young Children: A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers, by Deb Curtis and Maggie Carter. This is another must have for any teacher or caregiver! It not only has beautiful pictures of project work and inspiring classrooms but it includes great worksheets in the back for developing your classroom environment in all aspects.
- Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8, by Carol Copple. This is always a good book to refer back to and to skim through in the beginning of the year. It will remind you to be mindful of what is happening in your classroom and making sure all of your activities and just your daily dialogue with the children in your care is developmentally appropriate.