Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Collecting information about space and children's play...

Please could you write in the comments here... or in the comments of the groups where I share this post, so that I can collate some information about how space affects children's play and learning outcomes and also, more importantly, how it affects your teaching.... if you cannot teach the way children learn, then it is going to have a HUGE impact...

How much does the curriculum, the space and the size of the group impact your ability to teach/educate? especially educate the way you understand children learn.

So please, could you take the time to answe these questions... it would be REALLy interesting to see if there is a geographical difference in how much space per child is dedicated to children's learning, and whether this is enough space for children to learn through play....
the focus will be on children 0-6 years of age.
1. location - town, country
2. size of space for one class/group (preferably in square metres)
3. number of rooms available to JUST this class/group
4. other rooms available, and how often during the day/week/month
5. number of children and age of children in group/class
6. number of teachers (teachers and assistants, would be interesting to write 1 teacher, 2 assistants or whatever, just to see if there are any big geographical differences there too)
7. size of overall setting/school - how many classes,
8. what curriculum do you follow, do you feel it limits you in any way? (this is YOUR personal feeling as a reaction to your teaching style) - does it empower you?
9.do you have a no running rule inside... ? Why? (and there can be good reasons for this, so be open and honest please)
thank you for all the information, if you manage to ... it would be so interesting to understand more about how we use our indoor space... and also if we as teachers are limited/empowered by this space too. I will put all of this into a future post and share with you of course...

if you have any other thoughts that you feel would be useful for finding out whether there is enough space for us to teach children the way they learn or not, then I would very much appreciate it... 

Many thanks for your time. 
Suzanne


12 comments:

  1. 1. location - town, country - East side Seattle Washington, US
    2. size of space for one class/group (preferably in square metres)- not sure - one room standard size classroom
    3. number of rooms available to JUST this class/group - 1
    4. other rooms available, and how often during the day/week/month - library once a week, music room twice per week, gym twice per week.
    5. number of children and age of children in group/class 22 children ages 5 and 6.
    6. number of teachers (teachers and assistants, would be interesting to write 1 teacher, 2 assistants or whatever, just to see if there are any big geographical differences there too) 1 teacher, regular parent volunteers ( usually for an hour a day)learning support assistant for special ed part time.
    7. size of overall setting/school - how many classes, k-5 (ages 5-11), 24 classes
    8. what curriculum do you follow, do you feel it limits you in any way? (this is YOUR personal feeling as a reaction to your teaching style) - does it empower you? The curriculum is set by the school district and the state of Washington and aligns with common core. Each unit needs to be assessed using a written multiple choice test in core subjects Math, English,Science. I am not completely aware of the whole curriculum constraints as I am a parent volunteer and not the teacher but there seems to be an awful lot of pointless pen paper exercises. My daughter already cannot see the point of school as she doesn't understand why she has to fill out worksheets asking questions like which shape is the square, when she could do this years ago. There seems to be no room in the answers (particularly in comprehension exercises) for creative thinking and thinking outside the box. From my understanding teachers are no longer able to teach through play in the way they used to because of the required paper exercises and continual assessment. There is no state budget for art, art is taught by parent volunteers and funded by the ptsa.My daughter's teacher is a good teacher with a good relationship with her class, she tries to make everything as fun as possible and gives them free choice everyday. The classroom environment is a huge barrier to any other kind of teaching. classes are expected to work quietly because of close proximity to other classes. The whole class is carpeted meaning messy art, sensory play etc are almost impossible. The teacher is expected to introduce concepts using the screen and projector which means the teacher mostly sitting on a chair above the children rather than in a circle with them as would feel natural to me. My kids told me that every maths unit is introduced through a pointless animation (throughout the school). The only outside space is for the whole school so there are limited options for learning outside ( the substitute teacher in my K class looked at me as if I was insane when we took out art lesson outside using messy materials and working on giant pieces of paper) it was noisy and exciting - I think there is often concern that this isn't appropriate in a school environment.
    9.do you have a no running rule inside... ? Why? (and there can be good reasons for this, so be open and honest please) yes - we don't have space to run but I also think the whole culture of school life is based around being quiet and orderly - I'm not sure I could ever fit that mould so currently choose not to teach because I feel it would bring me down. I do however wonder if it is my duty to show that there is another way - but perhaps I wouldn't get through interview stage with my philosophy anyway.

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    1. Thank you SO much for the information. I appreciate your time and your contribution enormously.
      I am collating information in the upcoming two weeks... then I will spend July analysing and writing and then will post results.

      thank for participating... as I keep writing about democracy at the moment participation is important... also if we want to make changes we need to participate in many different ways, not just agree there needs to be change.
      So I am truly grateful for your time.

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  2. 1. location - town, country Scotland
    2. size of space for one class/group (preferably in square metres)haven't a clue, sorry
    3. number of rooms available to JUST this class/group 1 (though it's a community room so shared by other groups meaning we need to set up/put away each day
    4. other rooms available, and how often during the day/week/month we have access to the school gym once/wk, and can use a small sensory room most days. We also have our own outdoor area and can make use of the school field
    5. number of children and age of children in group/class up to 18 2-3yr olds
    6. number of teachers - 2 senior early years staff plus 3 practitioners (4 each session)
    7. size of overall setting/school - how many classes, We are a community run group meeting in the school community room. The school has a nursery and 7 classes
    8. what curriculum do you follow, do you feel it limits you in any way? (this is YOUR personal feeling as a reaction to your teaching style) - does it empower you? We follow the Scottish Prebirth to three curriculum which is based on 4 principles (respect, rights, responsive care and relationships). This is a very open curriculum and, because we are in the voluntary sector, we have no major restrictions or expectations, although we are regulated by the same body as other childcare services. This feels very empowering as we have been able to develop our own ways of working and can be very flexible with each new cohort including children and parents. We can follow a play based curriculum with no pressure to achieve learning targets or goals - parents have been quite happy about this. We share info about other play based settings so that parents can understand how we work and what to expect
    9.do you have a no running rule inside... ? Why? Running inside is discouraged mainly through lack of space and safety of others. When the children want to run we take them outside or do something active indoors eg we always have at least one piece of equipment giving opps for physical play

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    1. thank you SO much for your feedback...
      would you say your space was large or small... does it feel adequate for the number of children you have...
      and fabulous that you feel empowered by the curriculum... that is how it should be... having the freedom to be the educators the children need you to be...
      many thanks
      Suzanne.

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    2. It's a big enough room - it's only some days when the children are particularly restless that more space would be good but as i said there are other areas we can use. Also our high adult/child ratio lets us split up the group when we want. Ideally we would have a cloakroom but have to make do with a very small entrance area - this does feel cramped/inadequate at drop off/pick up times

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  3. Anna... posts on FB... I share it here to keep it safe and inspire participation
    1. location - Uppsala, Sweden
    2. 70m2. I am not sure...
    3. 3 rooms. One big classroom and two smaller rooms for construktion and drama play.
    4. One piazza where we are every day in smaller groups. One large room for dancing and gymnastics. We use it mabye once a week. One ateljé that we can use as much as we want, but we do allmost all our artwork in our classroom.
    5. 24 children, 5-6 years.
    6. 2 teachers, 2 assistents.
    7. We have ca 75 children, 1-6 years. 4 "avdelningar/classes" with 2 smaller groups in every class.
    8. The swedish curriculum. I think it lets me follow the children and allows me to use my knowledge, experience and expertice to form the kind of education and enviroment that I think is the best for this group of children. https://www.skolverket.se/.../visa-enskild-publikation...
    9. We have a no running rule indoors. Running is often disturbing other childrens play and exploring, and they can smach in to eachother. We have a big space for running outside and we spend a lot of time outside for play everyday.

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  4. Alexis posted this on FB... I share it here to keep it safe and to inspire partcipation
    1. location - Nassau, Bahamas
    2. size of space for one class/group -not sure!
    3. number of rooms available to JUST this class/group-3 rooms available to all
    4. other rooms available, and how often during the day/week/month-outdoor area available every day
    5. number of children and age of children in group/class-one group-23 children/2-5 years old
    6. number of teachers (1 teacher, two assistants)
    7. size of overall setting/school - 1 class
    8. what curriculum do you follow, do you feel it limits you in any way? (this is YOUR personal feeling as a reaction to your teaching style) - does it empower you? We follow the children! We use a variety of resources from Handwriting Without Tears, Montessori...It definitely empowers me after working for many years in schools with strict curriculum guidelines!
    9.do you have a no running rule inside... ? Why? Yes, lack of open space inside

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  5. 1. location - town, country - Angus, Ontario, Canada
    2. size of space for one class/group (preferably in square metres) 800sq feet
    3. number of rooms available to JUST this class/group - 2 Kindergarten classes, which we rotate monthly.
    4. other rooms available, and how often during the day/week/month - gymnasium (daily) & library (weekly)
    5. number of children and age of children in group/class - extended day class - 26 students aged 4 to 10
    6. number of teachers (teachers and assistants, would be interesting to write 1 teacher, 2 assistants or whatever, just to see if there are any big geographical differences there too)1 teacher, 2 assistants based on ratio
    7. size of overall setting/school - how many classes, 10 classes with 285 students
    8. what curriculum do you follow, do you feel it limits you in any way? (this is YOUR personal feeling as a reaction to your teaching style) - does it empower you? We do not follow a curriculum, we follow the children's interests and try to link it to their current curriculum where possible.
    9.do you have a no running rule inside... ? Why? (and there can be good reasons for this, so be open and honest please) We do have a no running rule in the school, because that is the regulations set out by the Ministry of Education.

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  6. 1. location - Bangkok, Thailand

    2. size of space for one class/group- I have no idea, sorry. But the main classroom has more than enough space for aboit 25 children.

    3. number of rooms available to JUST this class/group- 1 classroom each for younger and older preschoolers.

    4. other rooms available, and how often during the day/week/month- 1 lunchroom, 1 nap room, 1 shared preschool learning space used daily.

    5. number of children and age of children in group/class- at the most we had 25/30 children between 2 and 5

    6. number of teachers (teachers and assistants, would be interesting to write 1 teacher, 2 assistants or whatever, just to see if there are any big geographical differences there too)

    2 lead teacher, 2/3 assistants, specialist assistance for Music, PE, Swimming and Thai language class.

    7. size of overall setting/school - 8 classes from Preschool to Secondary

    8. what curriculum do you follow, do you feel it limits you in any way? (this is YOUR personal feeling as a reaction to your teaching style) - does it empower you? We follow the British EYFS. Yes, I feel like it does limit me because of the outcomes they are expecting at the end of Reception (e.g. by 5, children should write phonetically plausible words or sentences tbat can be read by others, etc). A few children reach this stage without explicit teaching of phonics skills but most children, especially as they are learning English as an Additional Language,need to be taught systematically and explicitly. I try as much as I can to follow children's interests and where it may lead because I think they are capable and competent learners so it is really difficult to have a top-down approach to curriculum because it seems to generally follow the 'children are blank slates that need to be filled' view.

    The British EYFS focuses on dispositions to learn, which is great for teaching 21st skills, but by Reception and because of the push-down in curriculum there seems to be more of a push for academics, especially Literacy.

    9.do you have a no running rule inside... ? Why? (and there

    Yes, for safety reasons. While the classroom has an open arrangement, we do have learning centres separated by shelves. If children run, there is a chance they may fall and hurt themselves. We have mat time for music and movement and try as much as possible to take our learning outdoors instead to give them freedom to 'fly'.

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  7. Judi from FB
    1. location - town, country: Somerville, MA (town outside of Cambridge/Boston)

    2. size of space for one class/group: Classroom is 875 square feet (=81.2902 sq.meters) (State regulations are 25sq ft per child = 2.32258 sq. meters) = 400 sq. ft. for this size group (=37.1612 sq.meters)

    3. number of rooms available to JUST this class/group- In addition to our classroom, we also have a large hall/meeting space (Called the ‘Ulam’) we also use (1471 sq. ft.=136.6604 sq. meters)

    4. other rooms available, and how often during the day/week/month – We use the Ulam as needed for large motor activity if a child needs more space or bad weather, dancing, music parades, and just when we want/need more space, Shabbat circle. We are experimenting with children who do not nap to go into the Ulam for quiet but more spacious play.

    5. number of children and age of children in group/class: 16 children, begin the year ages 2.9 – 4.6

    6. number of teachers (teachers and assistants, would be interesting to write 1 teacher, 2 assistants or whatever, just to see if there are any big geographical differences there too): Our teachers function collaboratively and without titles of Asst, Lead, etc. regardless of level of state certification. We are a 12 month/year program and have four teachers since we go from 8:00am (early drop off) until 5:30pm. (State regulations require 1:10 teacher-child ratio) 1 is Full Time, three are part-time. We don’t’ think it works so well because there is little overlap for meeting and planning time together and its challenging to pass on information from the morning to afternoon. For various reasons, this summer we have 4 teachers, but distributed differently= 2 full time, 2 part time, it works better, but is not financially sustainable during the year.

    7. size of overall setting/school - how many classes: One classroom. {It is challenging to finance the operation of a program and cover all the overhead from just one classroom.}

    8. what curriculum do you follow, do you feel it limits you in any way? (this is YOUR personal feeling as a reaction to your teaching style) - does it empower you?: (I am the Director, so it's from what I see and hear from our staff.) We draw from a rich variety of resources ie. Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf, Hawkins, Lillian Katz, Constructivist, Social Learning, research relative to the brain and learning, DISC temperament model, and on and on. Our teachers are free to follow the child, to inspire the child, to walk beside the child, to scaffold interests in a child-centered emergent process. Parents also come in to share their interests, which often creates a trajectory of their own. (i.e. space, urban transportation planning, the brain). All this as long as they honor the child and the individuality, diversity, and commonality of the child and our group. As a Jewish program, we also integrate principles and values from Jewish life and holidays. Sometimes we feel like we are on fast moving train when the holidays come one on top of the other. We work to create threads of values, and how these and cultural components are shared with other cultures and religions. The periods of the year that are replete with holidays are the most challenging, particularly when we are already immersed in other journeys/explorations. We are always learning.


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    1. Judi continued...

      9.do you have a no running rule inside... ? Why? (and there can be good reasons for this, so be open and honest please). In the classroom, there are times children do run. We observe and decide whether at that time there is awareness and also space for their movement. Sometimes there are fire fighters running through the classroom and it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Either because it is a major disruption, the other children are positioned where it’s an accident waiting to happen, or it’s wonton running of uncontained and undirected energy. When a child/ren are involved in a play theme, or unbridled energy, we offer the option (if we have a teacher who can leave the room with her/him/them) to use the Ulam to continue the play theme or run laps, or whatever. There are skylights in the Ulam. We had a child who would go out there to sit in the space on the floor with SUN.

      ABOUT SPACE:
      As noted above, our state only requires 25 square feet/child. We have double that in our program and it’s not enough room. We are basically clutter free, and the room has an open feel. Young children are about movement, albeit also learning to regulate movement. Montessori built large motor movement into the way many of the materials are used so that children were carrying, bending, stretching, ALL the time. While they were using their minds, they were also activating their bodies. This does not exist inherently in most program methodologies.

      We have a large space, but we are always looking for more room, for more sensory options, quiet spaces, display of children’s work spaces or for saving ongoing work, spaces for children to set up their exploration, and sometimes, just plain ole’ space.

      One of the largest obstacles our staff encounters whenever we are reflecting on next steps, what are our children are telling us they need/want/are interested in, what we determine our classroom needs … we spend the most time trying to figure out “where to put it, what to move around, what to take out, what furniture can we change out”. I would say in a three hour working period, at least ½ the time is just trying to figure out the logistics.

      I also think that depending on temperament, some children need more space, VISUALLY, and concretely (for one reason or another, either because of sensitivities or because the child is a ‘big space’ child motorically). The VISUAL is important because I also see the air space and wall space in classrooms full of artifacts, documentation, and hanging stuff. While wonder-full, it’s also fatiguing to the brain. Research tells us the visual field should be filled with no more than 30% (It’s really 25%, but I’m taking the liberty of increasing it to be more realistic.)

      I think it’s important to think of all kinds of ‘space’ when we are talking about ‘space’, not just floor space or square footage. It’s also what we do with the space, how we fill it, and how we keep it open. Suzanne, I'll be fascinated to hear how all this data collates.

      I have traveled to many classrooms throughout the East Coast of the U.S.A. and I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve seen a classroom yet where the children really have enough space. If I had my druthers, we’d live outside, and that would be our space!

      I also realize I am speaking from an entitled cultural environment, and there are countries where children have so much less, and yet grow beautifully. This is a very western perspective.

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  8. Emily... posted a response on FB... and I have copied it here..
    1. far western suburbs of Chicago, IL (USA) semi-rural town
    2. not really sure about size, I have a fairly large-ish classroom for public school but don't know square footage. I'll try to remember to count floor tiles tomorrow.
    3. i have a classroom; we also use other spaces within the school such as the library, cafeteria (special activities), gym
    4. we visit the library weekly, the gym when we can't be on the playground- occasionally we visit other classrooms for special activities
    5. last year, I taught a 3-5 blended special ed/at-risk class, 17 in the morning and 16 in the afternoon. This summer, I am teaching all children going to Kindergarten (so almost or already turned 5; they have to be 5 by the beginning of September). There are 23 students on my list, but 21 that are coming regularly. Next year, I will have 20 students in a full-day class - all 4's turning 5
    6. number of teachers: 1 teacher, 1 classroom assistant (plus a 1:1 aide for a student in my AM class last year that required it; if that student returns to my classroom next year I will again have the 1:1)
    7. I teach in public school, next year, we will have 9 1st grade classes, 9 kindergarten classes, and 5 PreK classrooms- 2 full-day for 4's and 3 classrooms (6 sections) of half-day.
    8. We loosely follow Creative Curriculum; I also have the flexibility/freedom to use Project Approach and add in Reggio elements or whateveris working for me/my students as appropriate. We follow a pacing guide based on the Teaching Strategies Gold assessment; tells me what skills I need to focus on but not HOW I focus on them. In general, I like it because I have freedom within some general direction.
    9. I do not encourage children to run in the classroom; there are usually children working on the floor, or water has spilled from the sensory table, or loose parts that have been/are being used, and I don't want children and/or materials to get hurt. They are encouraged to run on the playground and we often have running activities in the gym. In general, children are not encouraged to run in the hallway, but I do sometimes allow children to do that within some control when they re needing to get some energy out (given the option, a clear hallway is a MUCH safer choice than a busy classroom).

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