Ideal layouts for preschool classrooms

Written by tania k. cowling
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Ideal layouts for preschool classrooms
Arrange a preschool classroom according to interests and learning centres. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The arrangement of a preschool classroom is essential in providing a safe environment for young children to explore and learn. The layout must meet both the teacher's and children's needs. Among the things to consider when planning a preschool classroom are visibility, safety, active and quiet areas, small and large group areas, traffic patterns and storage.


When arranging furniture, keep in mind that each child must be within sight and sound of the teacher at all times. Position tall shelves and cubbies against the wall, making sure they are secured into the wall to avoid falling. Use short shelves as dividers between sections and learning centres so the teacher can view the children. These dividers can be used to store toys and materials within a child's reach.

Safety and Storage

All classroom equipment and materials need to be in good working order, nontoxic and with no sharp edges. Tables and chairs should be at the children's height so they can get in and out of them easily. Carpets need to be taped down to avoid falls. Outlets must have safety caps installed. Cleaning and toxic chemicals must be inside a locked upper cabinet. Upper shelves and cabinets are appropriate for storage of art materials and extra toys because they are above the temptation of little hands.

Small and Large Group Activities

Arrange the classroom to accommodate space for large- and small-group activities. Large-group activities include circle time, reading books and music and movement. Give each child a specific spot in a large-group activity, making use of carpet squares or pillows. Small groups are used for teacher-directed activities, such as math concepts, science and language development, with six or fewer preschoolers. A useful area is a special table or a place on the carpet where the teacher can work with a small group and still view the rest of the class playing or working in centres.

Traffic Patterns

An effective traffic pattern allows children to walk from one area of the classroom to another without disturbing the other children. Set up learning centres with walking paths around them. Do not leave a straight path where children are tempted to run through. Teachers can visualise traffic patterns for a preschool classroom if they get down on their knees to view the room at the child's level.

Active and Quiet Areas

Providing both areas will allow children to choose the type of activity he or she is interested in and balance the preschool school day. Quiet activities include reading books, listening to tapes and writing. Set up a cosy area with soft pillows, a small table with chairs and the materials at the child's reach. On the other hand, active centres involve block play, music and movement, dramatic centre play and exploring sensory materials. This area can get loud and distracting. Make sure active and quiet areas are on opposite sides of the room.

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