Center-Based-Learning creates clear-cut areas for learning. Each center has a different educational focus, such as motor skill or cognitive development, that inspires hands-on learning in an organized way. Centers are coordinated based on content or activity areas, such as dramatic play, reading, art, science, manipulatives, and blocks.
Including centers in the classroom encourages young children to explore materials on their own and gives children the chance to choose what they want to try. One child may choose to use a microscope in the science center, while another independently explores plastic bugs with a magnifying glass. This exploration develops self-confidence, prepares the children for the similar choice-times they will make in Kindergarten, and breeds creativity as most often centers include raw materials.
The materials in each learning center encourage hands-on exploration. And even though centers encourage play, they help children learn. Just because a child is playing with blocks or finger painting doesn't mean that she isn't learning as well. For example, playing in the block area can help children learn basic math ideas such as shapes and patterns. Finger painting is a tool for early hand-writing.
Our centers are well-structured and completely accessible to the children in the classroom. The materials, storage units, tables and chairs are all on the child's level. While center-based learning doesn't mean everything is kept out all of the time, it does mean that children have easy access to tools during Center Time so that they can decide with what they want to experiment, tinker, or create a brilliant masterpiece.
All of our Center Times end with a Class Circle Time, an opportunity to practice listening, repeating, and body control. At this time, the lesson of the day is discussed, at least one story is read, and the children participate in a group discussion.