Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wanted: A Literacy-rich Prekindergarten Classroom

Are you approaching the age of looking for a prekindergarten program for your child? Within the next year, I'll be looking for a program for Logan. After reading the first section of Literacy Beginnings, Living and Learning in the PreK Classroom, I started dreaming about the perfect classroom environment for my kids. One of the most important aspects to me is that my sons are immersed in a literacy-rich environment. Granted, these things will most likely not all be present in the classroom I end up choosing. There are other factors to consider such as location, cost, scheduled times of classes. But this is the type of environment I want to see portrayed. Maybe this list will help you as you think about prekindergarten placements for your child.

My Checklist for Choosing a Literacy-rich Prekindergarten Classroom:

What do you see in the classroom? 

  • Is the room clutter free?
  • Is the room safe? Are children able to move around without getting hurt? Are exits accessible?
  • Does the room feel comfortable?
  • Is there an area large enough for the children to meet as a group to build a sense of community?
  • Is children's work displayed?
  • Are displays low enough to be within the child's line of sight?
  • Are learning areas well defined?
  • Is the classroom well labeled?
  • Is there a class library? (Fountas and Pinnell suggested this formula: Number of books in class library = 5Xs the number of students in the class. Wouldn't that be an awesome goal!)
  • Are books available in other areas of the classroom as well- such as theme related books in play areas?
  • Is there an art center and a writing center that is well organized with developmentally appropriate materials? Are the materials accessible?
  • Are there theme related play areas? Do the areas change by theme?
  • Are the walls filled with print? Do you see children's names posted in many places around the room? This will probably be one of the first words your child is reading. It's important!
Ask if you can observe the classroom. 
What do you observe?
  • Is play central?
  • Is there a sense of community in the classroom?
  • Is there a predictable routine? Do the children seem to know what to do next? This will make your child feel much more secure and safe at school.
  • Are adults modeling appropriate behavior in order to help children learn to self-regulate their own behavior?
  • Are children being told information or are they encouraged to construct knowledge on their own through inquirying about interesting topics? Children should be learning how to learn not just absorbing facts.
  • Is the classroom balanced between too chaotic and too teacher-directed?
  • Are teachers giving clear directions?
  • Do children have adequate time for transitions?
  • Is time given for the children to express themselves verbally and talk about what they are learning?
  • Are the children given opportunity to move physically?
I also found these articles at helpful in choosing a prekindergarten program:
Making Your Preschool Choice: How to Find the Best Program for Your Child
The Preschool Visit: How to Tell if You've Found a Good Preschool

And because we're sitting this year out on preschool and waiting until the following year here is some great DIY: Home Preschool advice from Heidi Murkoff at

Feel free to check out more reflections on the book Literacy Beginnings at Pre-K Pages' book study blog party.
Pre-K Pages

And if you want more tips from Heidi Murkoff at What to Expect, check out my THREE book set giveaway (ends July 15th)

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