"Yes" Environment

A "Yes" Environment

It gets exhausting saying "no" all the time, and it also doesn't help you feel more connected with the kids in your program. If you feel like you're saying "no" and micromanaging your kids, it might be a good time to make some changes. Here are some ideas:

1. Design for your sanity. Only put out toys and materials that are open for your kids to use. Make sure the items on your shelves are things that your children are welcome to play with at free play times. Some toys may live in the closet and only come out to play when you choose to bring them out and that's ok.

2. Design for independence. As much as possible, set up your classroom in a way that allows children to independently move through it and make choices. One example is by creating a self-serve art center. Many people hear that and think about paint flying everywhere and wasted materials, but your art center doesn't need to be full of every kind of art material under the sun, but just enough to allow children to choose to be creative when they want. The everyday materials be very simple: crayons, markers, paper, stencils, and stickers. You can pull out the messier art materials for bigger activities, or when a child requests it.

3. Create variety. Kids can get bored just like adults. Every month or so rotate the materials that are available to your kids. This will encourage them to play with materials in a new way, while also creating excitement as new items come and go. This also allows you to put a toy away for a while if you notice that your kids aren't ready for it.

4. Set classroom norms. What ultimately will turn your classroom into a "yes" environment is by coaching your kids in classroom norms. Perhaps you want to set the norm that kids clean up one activity before moving on to the other. Or that only 2 children may paint at the easels at a time. Decide what makes sense for your space and materials and take the time to help your kids understand these rules. A little bit of extra time and attention on classroom rules and routines in the beginning can go a long way in your own sanity.