In Kindergarten, our classroom is setup in various interest areas called learning centres. The children move independently throughout the area and work in each daily. Through this arrangement, children learn organizational skills — an important concept to master for the present as well as the future.
Learning centres are areas within the classroom where students learn about specific subjects by playing and engaging in activities. Play is an active form of learning that involves the whole self. Even cognitive development, the primary focus in today's kindergarten, is achieved through child-initiated exploration and discovery.
However, children need certain strategies and skills, such as making decisions, carrying out plans, cooperating and sharing with others, and problem-solving, in order to play and learn independently.
Each learning centre is setup with a certain goal in mind, and it is functional when it meets that goal. They are creatively prepared and changed on a weekly basis, because they are incorporating lesson plans. Some centres are prepared for structured fee-play, and others for focused learning.
Here are the benefits of learning centres in Kindergarten:
Centre-based play gives children clear choices. Learning centres available for the day are presented to the children at circle time. Each learning centre is labeled to help children choose activities independently.
Centre-based play helps children develop social responsibility. With centers children learn to take care of things--and people. They also learn to clean the area when they are done so that other children can enjoy the centre after them.
Learning centres are great for integrating a variety of activities around a theme.Learning centers give a great boost to the effectiveness of teaching and learning experience in the classroom. Since children learn best using ALL their senses, different centers based on the themes allow the children to experience the exploration with all their senses.
Learning centres are interesting and motivating.An effective centre keeps boredom at bay. Materials and resources available and presented promote intrinsic motivation. There are so many areas for children to choose from, and these areas are always changing, some twice a week, others once a week. There's no time to get bored.
Centres provide learning opportunities for more than one developmental stage.Learning centers allow each child to develop the skill at their own pace, beginning where they need to begin, and taking the time they need to complete the learning process. It's done on their time, at the level they are comfortable with.