Working on centers in Pick Me Academy preschool

Centers are activities located in specific areas around the classroom. Often, each specific area is also referred to as a center. The time period on the classroom schedule for these activities is also often called centers.

In Pick Me Academy, children work in small groups during center time, and they can also work independently.

Depending on your preference, some center activities can be done with the teacher, while others are completed with peers or individually.

Why is it Important to Have Centers in our Classrooms?

Centers Help Kids Grow Socially

Kids need to find a way to join in on play that’s already established at one center.

  • They need to negotiate the guidelines to what they’ll be doing in the center.
  • One child may want some time to herself at a center, and she needs to express that to her friends.
  • Children constantly work on who is using what material at any given time, and if they’re willing to share that with some friends.
  • When it’s time to clean up, the kids need to decide who will be responsible for what task.
  • A child might be struggling with a task he very much wants to do. He can ask a friend for help, a friend could offer to help, or some combination thereof.

Centers Help Kids Become More Self-Aware

  • Time management

Time management is one big part of centers. If your centers last an hour, and a child knows she wants to go to the math center AND the science center that day . . . well, she needs to figure out how to accomplish that.

  • Self-Regulation

An amazing amount of self-regulation is practiced during center time. There is always some friction when children are sharing an area and materials. There’s a back-and-forth that the kids need to navigate, and sometimes that can be frustrating.

  • Their Own Interests

´Kids can take the time to explore what they’re interested in. Since each center should be stocked with different kinds of materials, the children can determine what they like and don’t like.

Centers Help Kids Learn

As with the social and self development concepts listed above, there are so many ways centers help with early academics:

  • Make Mistakes
  • Center time is a safe place to make mistakes. This seems like such a small aspect of the conversation, but it is so very important. Mistakes are a part of the learning process, and center time allows for a low-stress time for them.â
  • Practice, Practice, Practice….. Children get to practice concepts they’ve been taught during centers in preschool. For example, say a child is learning to count to 10. She can explore this concept as she counts the blocks of a structure she made in the block center.
  • Extend the Learning

Kids can also extend early learning concepts. If a child’s mastered the basic AB pattern, maybe he’ll go on to playing with the more complicated ABB pattern.

  • Learn New Skills

New-to-them skills will also crop up while children are playing and learning in centers. These are the “Ah ha!” moments, and they are blast to observe in classroom centers. “Did you know that when you mix the red paint with the blue paint, you get purple?!” “There are 10 letters in my name, but only 4 in her name.”

  • Develop Language

And we can’t forget to talk about the language development that happens during center time. Because preschool centers allow children to interact with their peers so much, there is almost constant discussion between kids.

Even children who don’t like to talk as much, or who are learning a new language, benefit from this. Speaking, listening, learning new vocabulary, hearing the flow of language, learning how to take turns during a conversation – these are all important language skills.

Examples of Centers

Reading Center:

A cozy spot set up in the classroom, with a variety of books available for the children to read.  Books related to the theme, class-made books, big books, interactive writing charts, etc.

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Writing center

A place where students can practice the various stages of writing.  Sometimes this center is “free writing”, with the children deciding what to do. Other times, the activity is teacher-directed.

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Role play center

“Kitchen appliances”, a table, and chairs set the backdrop for this center.  Some ideas for the role play center are acting out favorite stories, running a flower shop, selling produce in a roadside stand, and caring for patients in the ER.

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Art and craft center

The purpose of this center in preschool is to let the kids explore their creativity. For this center, you might put out art materials the kids can use with minimal supervision.  Or some days you might introduce a new art technique or material that requires and adult to stay for most of center time.

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Sensory center

The sensory center in preschool helps kids focus in on their senses. This center might hold water, rice, shaving cream, beads, straws, and so much more.

Ideally, the materials would be rotated so that different senses are explored throughout the year.

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Science center

The science center in preschool helps the children learn to investigate the world around them.

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Math Center

Some ideas for this center include playing dice games, sorting jelly beans, matching numeral cards to quantities of items, sorting items, etc.

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