I’m sure you have heard folks say, “Young children need to enter a warm and inviting classroom.”
Let’s talk about the “warm” part for just a minute by taking a looking at the attributes of a warm classroom.
The Five Attributes of a Warm Classroom
A warm classroom isn’t referring to the physical temperature of your room, although no one wants to spend all day in a chilly classroom. A warm classroom environment is referring to the child’s overall social and emotional feelings that come from his or her classroom experiences.
In a warm classroom, the children experience a feeling of belonging, safety, confidence, independence and kindness.
Being intentional in your efforts to include these five attributes of warmth will warm up your classroom.
I Belong Here
Simple things can promote a sense of belonging like: The child finds his name written clearly on a chart; He has his very own cubby; his artwork hangs where he can see it and talk about it; and a photo of his family is hanging on the wall. These simple things all send a signal to the child that he belongs here.
I feel Safe and at Ease Here
The feeling of safety is promoted in many different ways. Personal safety comes when the child feels that nothing bad will happen to him. Emotional safety comes when respect towards each other (teacher-to-child and peer-to-peer) in what is said and done is always present, encouraged, and reinforced. Young children feel at ease when there is a sense of emotional safety. Having conversations and modeling behaviors that promote an atmosphere of respect and kindness facilitate a warm Environment.
I Feel Confident Here
Confidence also comes when the child feels invited to be try her own ideas, think creatively, and when she feels not only an invitation to explore but also the freedom to choose, explore, test, try, and play with the things you provide around the classroom. Finally, confidence is promoted when the child knows it is okay to make mistakes and feels empowered to make choices and decisions.
I Can Do Things By Myself Here
Independence is promoted as the child learns to navigate the day without the need of constant direction from the teacher. You can promote independence (and ultimately competence and confidence) by helping the child learn to do things by all by himself. Building new skills like hanging papers on an easel, putting papers away in cubbies, learning to zip up jackets and put on mittens, and serving his or her own snack all lead towards a feeling of independence, confidence, autonomy and having some control over one’s own life and destiny.
I Know They Like Me Here
All young children need the assurance that they are liked by their teachers and their peers. A thoughtful comment, using a kind voice, and taking that extra minute to listen to a child tell his stories reinforces the feeling that you are interested in him and that you like him. And don’t forget, one of the most simplest ways to reassure a child that he or she is liked, appreciated, and valued is to smile. Not just any kind of smile but one of those genuine kind that say’s “I just really like you.”