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Building Community in the Preschool Classroom

Reflections from the Field

Head Start teacher Ashley Anderson describes how she encourages children to support and learn from their peers in the classroom. Through intentional classroom management strategies, the teachers help children to develop social relationships and friendships. Over time and with much practice, the children seek each other's help to solve problems in a cooperative manner.

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  • Video Transcript for Building Community in the Preschool Classroom

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    Download a printable transcript.

    Ashley Anderson, Preschool Teacher, Plainfield Head Start:
    Probably the part of my classroom that I’m the proudest of is the amount of community. The feeling of community, you sense that. The relationships and the communal environment between the children. Not just between the staff and the children, but amongst each other. We do the “Ask three, and then me” philosophy in the classroom. Meaning that if a child came to us, you know, “Can you open this jar? Can you button my smock? Can you do this?” Our response is automatically, “Ask three children, and then if somebody, if they’re not willing to help you, then come back to us.” Making ourselves available, but encouraging them to help each other.

    Teacher: So she rolled six. So help her count them.
    Children: One, two, three, four, five, six.

    Ashley Anderson: And very quickly it took off. And it was so beautiful to see, even those small interactions. But then from there we noticed, you know, then it was, they were talking about their weekends. They were having conversations when they’re drawing on their boards. A lot of times they’ll help each other, you know, “Oh, we’re not doing that step yet,” and giving each other the cues, which takes away from the teacher having the intervene. And while obviously I’m a presence in the room, it’s nice to see them scaffolding each other’s learning.

    Child 1: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…
    Child 2: No; you passed six!
    Child 1: Hey! I was on six.
    Child 2: No; this was one, two, three, four, five, six.

    Ashley Anderson:
    It’s nice to see that type of support being given, but it’s even nicer to see it being received as a caring gesture as opposed to, “Oh, I could do it myself!” you know, which a lot of times in preschool you see. But the children, because it’s such a safe community, they don’t sense that threat. They really all care about each other. It’s really nice.

    © 2016 Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University
    May be reprinted for educational purposes.
  • Producers: Terry Surprenant, Sean Leser, Julia DeLapp
    Script: Julia DeLapp
    Videography and Editing: Sean Leser

    Special thanks to EASTCONN-Head Start in Plainfield, Connecticut. The development of this video was funded by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.