Creating a successful 2-year-old environment takes a lot of planning, prioritizing and organization. Transitioning from infancy to a 2-year-old preschool can be a big adjustment. These children are usually very attached to their caregivers. It is important for the child to feel secure when they are away from home. Your classroom should offer a place for parents and children to be greeted and feel welcome. I always offer a hug and a smile when a child arrives at my door. This sense of security helps make coming to school an enjoyable experience.
A 2-year-old environment should be set up from a child’s perspective. Get down on your knees so that you can actually see the room from a child’s height! You will be amazed at what you can see from a child’s point of view. Make sure to have a soft space area that appeals to the senses and aesthetics of children. Carpets, pillows, rocking chairs, etc., provide opportunities for close conversations between children, reading or day dreaming. Most 2-year-olds spend a lot of time exploring, pushing, dumping and touching things. Take this into consideration when you set up centres in your room. Make sure to have clear pathways so that children can scan choices and change locations without interfering with others.
2-year-olds love to be independent! You promote independence by having “free play”. Free play helps 2-year-olds to stay active and strong. It is amazing to see their imaginations at work and to watch them role-play. It has been my experience that an organized, neat, and colourful classroom makes children more c comfortable. I have found that “Less is Best” when setting up my 2-year-old environment. We have a daily schedule that we follow. Schedule cards are posted on the wall in our room and the children can look at any time and see what we will be doing next. Being consistent and following our schedule gives the children a sense of security.
2-year-olds usually have a hard time transitioning. When we move from one activity to the next, I signal the children by blowing a train whistle. This alerts the children that we will be moving on to a new area and gives them time to process that we will be changing activities.
2-year-olds love to listen to stories, rhymes and finger plays. I use puppets during circle time to help the children learn how to communicate and model positive behaviours. I have different puppets to go along with different stories. “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” is a book that my 2-year-old children love! We act out the story using puppets. Each child is given an animal and as I read the story, they get to put an animal in to the puppets mouth. The children always have fun reciting the story while acting it out.
Every 2-year-old child is unique. It is important to provide an educational environment that promotes socialization, communication, spiritual development, and a sense of joy in all children. Keep in mind that children may not reach milestones in their development in the same way or at the same pace. Being flexible and adapting your classroom management to fit the needs of all children will help make your room run smoothly!