Planned Chaos: Understanding The Layout Of Your Preschooler’s Classroom

There really is reasoning behind the cluttered mess that comprises your child' preschool classroom. At first glance, those clusters of tables, oddly placed bookshelves and corners filled with over-sized toys may look random, but they're far from it. Preschool teachers arrange their classrooms very meticulously for a variety of reasons.


Safety is the top concern in any classroom, but even more so for early learners whose motor skills are still in development. Placing clusters of tables, shelving or other obstacles in the center of the room helps break up long stretches of empty space that would otherwise encourage running and horseplay. It's a smart idea to keep empty space at a minimum when dealing with preschoolers.


Grouping similar toys and manipulatives together makes cleanup much easier at the end of the day. Most modern preschool classrooms are divided into centers as opposed to the rows of old. Examples of common work centers you might find in your preschooler's classroom include:

  • Sensory Centers:  These often include rice or sand tables, clay or modeling dough. The sensory center exists to help encourage hands-on learning activities.
  • Reading Centers:  Usually comprised of shelving and a comfortable seating area, the reading center is a vital element in any classroom.
  • Role-Play Centers:  The over-sized toy kitchens, refrigerators and dollhouses make up the role-play center. This is where imagination is coaxed into existence. This area may also contain boxes filled with costumes and accessories.
  • Quiet Centers:  Vital in a preschool setting, the quiet center is where overstimulated tots go to relax and calm down. Typically it's a cozy couch, beanbag chair or other welcoming area.


Every teacher strives to make her classroom conducive to learning, and preschool teachers are no exception. The biggest difference between classrooms set up for early learners and those designed for older children is the play factor. According to, play is the single most important learning tool among preschoolers. As a parent, you may not realize all the skills your preschooler hones through play:

  • Cooperation
  • Socialization
  • Sharing
  • Problem-Solving
  • Communication
  • Motor-Skill Development
  • Literacy

Allowing young children to explore their world through play makes lessons engaging and fun--the two main ingredients for capturing and retaining the attention of an early learner.


Learning to get along with others is a skill your child will use throughout his whole life. According to Parenting Science, there are three emotions that must be present for a child to become successful at developing social relationships:

  • Empathy
  • Self-Control
  • Verbal Communication

The preschool classroom is a great place to hone and define these skills, though emotions like empathy are strongly linked to a child's home environment.

It's for socialization reasons that most preschool classrooms are designed to place multiple children together at tables, work centers and on carpets and mats. This is when kids learn how to keep their hands and feet to themselves, how to respect other people's space, and when it is and isn't appropriate to talk out loud.

So when you enter your child's preschool classroom for the first time, take the time to look carefully around and view the space from his teacher's perspective. This will help bring organization to the stuffed and cluttered first impression. There really is a place for everything, and learning to put everything back into place is one of the skills your child's teacher will help him learn. Preschool learning programs such as Star-Brite Learning Program differ greatly from those offered to older kids because early learners have more specific needs—the need to move and play, the need to participate in activities that require only a short attention span, and the need to work hands-on with manipulatives. If your child's preschool classroom looks like it has way too much going on, he's probably in for an enjoyable and educational first year of school.