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How to Teach a Class of 2-Year-Olds

by Melissa Gagnon

A class of 2-year-olds will keep you on your toes. Your job description includes everything from helping children make new discoveries to fixing boo-boos and preventing meltdowns. Teaching in a 2-year-old classroom can be noisy, fun, chaotic and refreshing. A well-run class will stay busy and keep all the little ones engaged until parents come for pickup.

Create an inviting environment. From the moment parents drop off their 2-year-olds, you'll want to keep those tots busy and happy. Your room should be set up with inviting activities that 2-year-olds can play with while all the children are arriving. A block area, a play-dough center, a sand table and an inviting reading nook are all appealing spots for a 2-year-old. Other activities such as stampers, paint, trucks, and math manipulatives to sort and count can be rotated in based on your themes.

Set a schedule. Even children as young as 2 can settle nicely into a routine. When children know what to expect during class, transitions are easier. It is much simpler to stick to a schedule than to try and convince a crying 2-year-old to come in from outdoors when he wasn't expecting to.

Start with circle time. When all the children have arrived, meet up on the rug to sing songs, read a story and talk about the day's schedule. Use this time to help develop the children's language skills by naming things in the classroom, introducing new songs and stories, and talking about the weather.

Know when to be flexible. If your lesson plan or activity isn't working, change it. If the children seem to be more interested in the snow outside than your planned activity, find a way to turn that into a teachable moment. Have fun with the children. Let them guide their learning by noticing what interests them.

End the class with a good-bye ritual. Sing a good-bye song or read a final story. Review the activities you've shared with the students. Many 2-year-olds don't have a lot of expressive language, so you can reinforce new words by reviewing what you did together.

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