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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for over 23 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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What Children Need and Want

As an early childhood professional, I think we all ask ourselves: what do children really need at school? What do children want at school? Some would argue with need and want, saying they can’t be the same thing, but they are the same. As I was teaching and saw different teaching styles and the way classrooms were run, I learned a lot about what I wanted and needed to do because of what my students needed and wanted:

Children need/want:

  1. A warm and loving environment where everyone is welcome, and they feel at home and at ease.
  2. Individual spaces where children can sit alone, work alone, and have a spot for their belongings.
  3. A classroom community where everyone is valued. When children have this, they know and feel like they belong. They have jobs where they contribute and help each other. 
  4. Rules/expectations/ children can help make these so they know they helped build the classroom culture. When they break an expectation, they feel empowered because they made that expectation.
  5. Jobs where they have something they are responsible for and have to do each day to help the ruining of the classroom community.
  6. Responsibility for their actions: they want to be held accountable for positive and or negative things that happen (trial and error).
  7. A Daily schedule: children want to know how their day will run. Children are not that much different than adults (raise your hand if you have a to-do list or a daily schedule).
  8. Procedures and transitions: Children want to know their limits and when things will happen next. They like structure; they want and need it also.
  9. Time to learn and reflect on their own: after the teacher teaches, children need time to go to a center or to an area they choose and work on whatever the skill is. This allows for differentiation and different learning styles to take place. Teachers should monitor this time and even assess the learning. 
  10. Relationships between the parent and teacher: when they see their families getting along with and agreeing or backing the teacher, they are more willing to listen and feel good about doing good in their classroom community.
  11. To feel heard and be valued: Children want a teacher who listens to them and gets to know them. Someone that comes to their soccer games or buys Girl Scout cookies from them.
  12. Structure: children want a classroom where things run smoothly, the daily schedule is followed, and they know what to expect.
  13. Show and tell and or a place where they are able to hang artwork, tell about things happening to them, a place where they can bring important things and share with the community, and a place where they can feel free to share pictures from home and about their family.

Reflect on how many of these you already do. What could you add that you aren’t doing? Children do want to please you; they want to know what to expect and when, and when you provide children with these things and the things in your environment that work, you are being successful and helping them develop in a developmentally appropriate way.