It is often difficult for our little ones to work independently. I know my children follow me around like a flock of sheep. Even when all the toys are in another room, if I’m not in the room with them, they often won’t play with them either. Though endearing, their sense of dependency can often be frustrating. I want them to explore the world around them and learn from the toys and learning tools we have provided.
So the question is how to engage them and foster independence at the same time? In the classroom one amazing way to teach children and develop independence is through center work. Center work is a pivotal part of the early childhood classroom where students cycle through various activities that can be done independently. Centers are often focused on a specific theme or content area.
When I walk into my daughter’s preschool the whole floor is set up with various centers and frequently our homes are too. We arrange all music toys in one area, blocks, puzzles, and drawing/writing toys each get their own space too. As a result I began to see centers as a way of fostering independence.
Centers can be created out of almost anything and should be at a level that is engaging and challenging, yet can be done independently after several rounds of instruction.
It is important to rotate your centers so that they don’t get “played out”. At my house we have five active centers that the children have access to at all times. At least one is rotated out each week to make them more interesting and fun. Below is a list of some centers you can create for your children. Many of them are easy to put together and do not take up much space.
Ideas for Indoor Activity Centers:
Puzzle Center (independent)
Art center (independent)
Stamp center (independent)
Game Center (assisted)
Play Dough Center (independent)
Painting Center (assisted)
Reading Center (both)
Beading Center (independent)
Puppet Center (both)
Building Blocks Center (independent)
Marble Run Center (assisted)
Writing Center (assisted)
If you would like to purchase a center ready to go, below is a list of some start up kits to get your centers up and running!
Written By Nicole Rowley