The Progressive Preschool Classroom’s Work Area is usually where the tables and chairs are. The height of the chairs and tables should be proportionate to the height of the children. Based from our experience, we do not use plastic stackable chairs now for very young children because they are too light to hold the usually active toddler and tumble over and they are too short for the older kids. They are suited to 3-4 year olds who can sit down longer and can balance better. Worrying that they would fall when they move gives added anxiety to the child while working.
The tables are usually long ones to accommodate at least 4 children at a time. This can accommodate both individual and group work. The shape of the tables may vary. If the space permits it, having a semi-circular table helps to have the teacher sit in the inner arc while managing the students seated facing her. However, this requires too much space. Same goes with circular tables, they require much space.
A. There should be more than one table in the classroom, regardless of class size. Why?
1. It is possible to separate the tables to group students during activities. Each table can be labeled to form as a tool for categorizing. For example, there is one blue table and one red table (in the case of having tables of the same color, you can just tape a red circle in the middle of one and a blue circle in the middle of the other).The students can be seated by gender or by the color of their shirts or even by ages. The teacher can also use this to privately sort the children who are having a harder time in one table and those with advanced activities in the other (I say privately because, in this case, you shouldn’t tell your students that you’re classifying by skill level). This activity alone is a visual way in strengthening organizational, categorizing and sorting skills.
2. It is possible to move the tables around to change the orientation of the classroom. The progressive classroom is a flexible classroom. The lay out is tailor fit to the needs of the children and the curriculum. If for example, a table in the housekeeping area is needed to simulate preparing dinner, a table from the work are can be moved there.
B. The area should be near the shelves containing the work activities. I think this is pretty obvious. At home, the shelf containing dishes is not put far from the dining area, right?
C. The area is usually the eating area too.
In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, one of the definitions of the word work gives us an idea of what work means in a progressive preschool classroom. It is a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity. It is a part of the whole class apart from the other routines that happen in a class period. These routines will be discussed in Temporal Environment.