By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.
Learning Centers can be an excellent method for teaching students effectively. When children are taught in small groups, it enables the teachers to be more direct and also encourages the students to be more responsive. They promote independence, foster decision making and encourage involvement. Learning centers are fun and interactive and children are not intimidated by them. This way, teachers can focus on specific areas of study while getting full attention of the children. Developing learning centers takes a lot of time and effort; however it is worth the effort.
Learning centers can be used to teach any area of study. They are particularly successful with arts, languages, math and sensory areas. For example, the teacher can set up a learning center for the spelling bee, simple math problems, the sensory table which has items of various textures and so on.
When grouping children for learning centers; make sure that you have divided the children evenly in small groups. The groups can be named after fruits, vegetables, birds, shapes, colors or anything that you are going to study in the learning center. It is a good idea to do centers first thing in the morning as the children are more alert and attentive in the mornings.
It is important to rotate the children through centers as well as to make sure that they visit the learning centers at least once during the day. You can select a signal to change centers. It can be a patterned clap, a bell, a song, or a specific word. Explain to the children how you want them to visit the centers, it can be clockwise or activity wise. Make sure that the instructions are imparted clearly and that the children understand them.
Following are some suggestions for learning centers:
- Guided reading: Be very patient while dealing with pre-schoolers. Tell them to look at pictures in the book. If they say the wrong word, do not snap, but ask them questions like 'does it make sense?' 'does it sound right?' and so on.
- Listening center: Have a few books and tape recorders with headsets in individual bags in a corner. The student takes the bag of their choice and a listening center sheet. They listen to the book and then fill out the sheet which has questions like name of the book and author, name of the main character, and so on. The student can also be asked to draw the main character and asks them to tell if they liked the book.
- Math boxes are cardboard boxes containing games and hands on devices for students to use that focus on a particular math concept. It enables the students to practice and develop one to one correspondence, numeral recognition, sorting skills, patterning skills, set recognition, etc.
- Painting center can have watercolors, colored pens and pencils, coloring books, and so on. It helps develop creativity, imagination, fine motor skills as well as color concepts.
Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center, http://www.startingadaycarecenter.com.