Promoting Independence and Responsibility

Promoting Independence and Responsibility

Spaces for early learning are designed to encourage independence and maximize the amount of time you can devote to interacting or observing work/play in progress (Carter & Carter, 2003; Gestwicki, 2011). Carefully arranging sorted materials in open baskets or clear totes on accessible shelves helps children know where things belong and conveys our expectation that they will put them away properly when finished. Taping a picture or tracing of the material that belongs on each shelf or in each container promotes cognitive skills such as sorting and one-to-one correspondence as well as providing organizational guidance. Children can also learn to internalize procedures such as toothbrushing, handwashing, or self-serve snacks by posting a sequence of photo or prompts for each step in the process.

However obvious your system and organization might seem to you, children will still need direction and modeling to help them learn how it works. Early childhood teachers spend time orienting new children to the classroom, showing them how to select and use materials and activity areas and how to put things away when they are finished.

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