The best sign of a successful center can often be found as one walks in the front door. If you hear laughter, conversation and the buzz of activity, then you know that the center is full of
As we have focused on a flourishing and well-run center we have discussed a healthy director and an empowered staff. The third key component of a healthy program results from these first two: happy children. The sounds mentioned above are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the expressions of joy and excitement. We will work from the bottom to top of this list to start with curious first.
An almost universal characteristic of children is their ability to be curious. Everything is new to them and their unlimited curiosity can set the stage for great experiences. By leaning into their ideas and questions, appropriate and relatable activities can be offered to meet their curiosity and grow their learning opportunities. And a child’s curiosity can inspire our own as well!
When children’s interests are followed and they have the freedom to ask questions and seek additional information, they become excited and enthusiastic about coming in each day for further exploration on their own or with their friends. This excitement can be channeled into new investigations or a deeper dive into something they discover. Excitement causes more excitement and is one of the most enjoyable things to observe in a classroom!
Exciting opportunities in a classroom that address the curiosity of the children bring learning to the forefront each day. An observant and resourceful teacher creates learning that is embedded in activities and becomes a focus of conversation, brainstorming and discussion throughout the day. When this learning follows the children’s interests and is delightful for them, learning becomes the highlight of the day.
For children to enjoy where they are and what they are doing, they must be busy and involved in the activities and feel a connection to their classroom. Engagement is the key to this connection. Teachers who build relationships with each child and use their interests and strengths for planning provide the opportunity for children to engage deeply every day. These teacher/child relationships also model engagement with others for children and foster peer friendships and community-building.
As we consider these characteristics of happy children, we are describing a high-quality classroom, one that respects the ideas and attitudes of the children and that creates opportunities every day for growth and development for all. Happy children are the pinnacle of successful care and early education…and make it a joyous experience for teachers as well!