When it comes to play-based learning, sometimes it’s hard to see what children are actually learning.
Think about it, in a center where children are sitting and doing worksheets or workbooks, we can see the learning outcome.
More importantly, parents can easily see what their child is learning and often it comes home in the backpack.
But, in a play-based classroom (the best way for children to learn) this learning isn’t as easy to see. It takes a trained eye to see what benefits and results can come from centers or hands-on activities – not much of which is coming home in a backpack.
So, it becomes our job to communicate the amazing, endless learning opportunities that play-based learning can bring.
There are many ways to communicate the benefits of play to parents.
But, let’s just focus on one- Center Signs.
In a play-based classroom you need more than just a label on a wall.
When parents, administrators, observers or visitors come in they look around. They skim, they read, they take it all in.
I can’t count how many parents I’ve had at Meet the Teacher that aren’t even looking at me when I’m talking- they are scanning the room. They want to know what the environment is all about. It looks different than a traditional classroom. It’s intriguing to most!
This is where center signs come in.
Truth is, center signs aren’t necessarily for the children. Heck, most the time they don’t even notice they are there. Why? Well, they can’t read- so they might look at the picture at most. What they really are focused on is the who and what of what is in the center.
So, center signs are really for us adults. Traditionally, these signs were used only to define a center area in the classroom. Not much more than that.
But, truthfully those signs should be working harder for you.
You take the time to print/create, laminate and hang. They should at least serve you past defining a classroom area that children will most likely pay no attention to.
Center signs should teach. No, not teach children- teach adults. Parents, observers, substitutes… any visitor into your classroom space.
Center Signs should tell them -flat out- what children are learning. Visitors most likely will not have a trained eye. They most likely will not see past two children playing with blocks to see the amazing fine motor, cause and effect, problem solving, working together learning that you see.
But, let’s be real- not every adult is going to read the signs. No. Heck, if I could get the adults to just read an email I send I’d be happy. It is what it is.
But- those center signs that are working harder for you will be there if you need them. For instance…
Have a parent not sold on the play-based idea? Show them the different centers and read off some of the benefits.
Have a parent who is upset that nothing is coming home in the backpack? Take a picture of their child in the center and use one (or more) of the benefits on your center sign and send it.
^ this is what I mean by working harder!
You can take a look at my center signs (the benefits are already added to each center) and see if they are something you could use.
The center signs I created are editable too. Plus, you can add your own picture if you want!