Child development experts say that it is important to introduce responsibility to children from a young age. When they enter the toddler years, many children are able to help out with simple tasks. Focusing on the child's developmental stage, rather than just their chronological age, will provide insight into the level of tasks they're ready for. It will also assist in ensuring that your classroom runs smoothly and that children learn the value of helping each other.
Classroom responsibilities during the toddler and preschool years:
As we noted, it is important to start with simple tasks. For toddlers, this may include putting away toys or books after using them. By the time children reach preschool, they're typically able to complete more complex tasks, such as setting the table for snack or holding the door for their classmates. It is helpful to introduce more responsibility to children each year. Doing so will also add to their skills and confidence.
Make sure to set specific classroom tasks with concrete endpoints. For instance, you may tell your preschool students to clean up toys over the next five minutes. This lets students know that they have a goal to complete within a certain amount of time. Establishing a daily routine can also better help children remember their duties and your classroom schedule. For example, by cleaning their toys everyday after playtime, they know they must do this before outdoor recreational time, or whatever activity comes next in your class.
Here are some tips for making classroom tasks successful:
- Use conversation. Make sure you emphasize to your class the importance of taking on responsibilities and assigned tasks.
- Create charts. You can motivate children by working together in creating theme-related charts. You can make pictures of different classroom tasks, and hang these images up in a clear plastic door shoe holder. By seeing the images regularly, children also become more familiar with your classroom routines and responsibilities.
- Match tasks with children's strengths. When assigning classroom tasks, try to take children's various strengths and learning styles into account. Also make sure that the task matches students' current ability and skill level, and rotate duties regularly on a weekly basis.
- Keep things fair. If there are particularly popular tasks in your class, keep a tally on a graph so that children know when their turn is coming.
- Offer praise. When a student completes a task, make sure to say "thank you for cleaning up the blocks" and show them that you're proud of their work and effort. In addition, encourage students to recognize each other's helpfulness, for example, if they hold the door open or help a classmate look for a lost item.
- Keep a chart of completed tasks. Maintain a chart of classroom tasks and put a smiley face sticker or other similar symbol when the job has been completed. This reinforces the importance of completing classroom responsibilities and also boosts confidence. In addition, you can create a book about your classroom's tasks, featuring actual pictures. You can read the book aloud as a class and put it in your library, so that students can view it when they want.
ProSolutions Training offers many resources for early childhood educators. On our course menu, we have a whole section devoted to classroom management and positive guidance. We also offer a CDA course and a CDA Renewal course for early care and education professionals seeking the CDA Credential, which is administered and awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition. In 2013, ProSolutions Training became the first online training company to become a formal partner of the Council.