By Michael Morgan, M.Ed./M.A.T., principal, MESA The beginning of the year is a time for creating a sense of community, and your room is the gathering place. Here, all children can feel secure, nurtured and supported by the environment, each other, and YOU. This new group of individuals bring with them divergent interests, abilities, cultures, and families. Each child arrives at your door with a fertile background of experience that enriches your program. By demonstrating your loving acceptance of all children's backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints, you create an environment that says, "All are welcome here." At the same time you are modeling just how you want children to be with one another. The goal is to celebrate individuals while creating a sense of community.
We know from recent studies that children who feel a sense of identity within a group are the most well-adjusted and successful in school. As children progress developmentally, their group interaction skills become more finely tuned as well. Children's world view expands to add a greater understanding of the relationship between self and other. Studies also tell us that some of the most important skills children need for school readiness and success are the "people skills" of social interaction, communication, collaboration, and problem solving. They are the fertile ground that supports the academics of learning ABCs and 123s!
Ultimately, the essential element to creating a sense of community in your classroom is YOU! It is not the number of toys and materials or the size of your space that really counts. It is your loving, compassionate attitude towards the children in your classroom family that creates a joyful community.