How do you handle "wandering" during centers?

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by Preschool0929, Jun 17, 2017.

  1. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Comrade

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    Jun 17, 2017

    I've been thinking about trying some new solutions this year for students that "wander" during centers. I teach a preschool class of 3-5 year olds, with about 80% spec. ed. For my spec. ed .students, many of them are on center schedules where I have individual schedules of pictures that show them where they need to play first, second, etc.. For my typical students, it's just free choice learning center time. Most of my students choose centers quickly and stay engaged in various activities the entire time. However, every year I have 2-3 wanderers that will walk around until I give them "teacher help" to find a center.

    This year, I had 3 students in particular that never wanted to go to centers and would walk around the entire time, and then get upset if I picked somewhere for them to. These are typically my younger students who don't have very developed play skills.

    Anyways...I'll have these 3 students back this year and I want to figure out a new strategy for them. They aren't low enough to need a full visual schedule, but I just want something to help them make a choice and stay engaged with an activity. I went to a conference this week and a presenter talked about having a "wandering bucket" and if she saw students walking around, she handed them the bucket that had pictures of centers that they could choose from.

    Any ideas are welcomed!
     
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  3. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Fanatic

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    Jun 17, 2017

    Are you able to stay at the center for a few minutes and get the students engaged in the activity?
    Try giving them two choices - "You can choose between blocks or water table"
    Before you release them to centers, have them tell you which one they are going to

    I'm thinking about my 3-year-old niece right now, who is a typically developing child, and she would struggle with staying at one center for any length of time. She has the attention span of a gnat.
     
  4. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Comrade

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    Jun 17, 2017

    Thanks for the thoughts! Usually I do stay at the center, or I pair them with a peer, but it doesn't last for long. I start the year by giving choices between 2 centers, and then have them make a plan for where they will play and what they will do, but some end up still wandering. My class is highly structured, so we teach attention and focus all year. My 3 year olds can typically stay in an area for a while, it's just a few kiddos who have difficulty choosing an area.
     
  5. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Habitué

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    Jun 17, 2017

    My 3-5 year olds know to stay in their center the entire time. This rule is established during the first week of school (with several reminders of "you need to stay in your center", "go back to your center", etc.), but they are typically developing / not SPED, so that may be where they differ?

    But we have center tags. Before going to their center, they pick out where they want to go and put that center tag on their shirt. That helps them, other kids, and us know where they are supposed to be.
     
  6. renard

    renard Companion

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    Jun 19, 2017

    80% SPED? They should have an adult assistant/para at each centre to keep them on task. Please tell me you have assistance for an 80% SPED class!
     
  7. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Comrade

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    Jun 19, 2017

    I do have a para, but my more severe students require 1:1, so typically her time is spent with 1 or 2 of the most severe and I'm monitoring the other 17. Occasionally I get an extra para, depending on the severeity of my caseload.
     
  8. hmcd19

    hmcd19 New Member

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    Jun 25, 2017 at 8:54 AM

    So my classroom is not Spec. Ed but what we have discovered over the years is a need for morning meeting. At morning meeting we demonstrate how to play with whatever is at that center, like how to dress a baby or how to roll out play dough. We do this every single day for every single center. It lasts 15 minutes max, average about 11 minutes. And it has made a huge difference because most of the time kids don't know how to use the material. This helps the students engage at the center because they can enter with confidence thinking "I know how to pour water over the water wheel because my teacher just showed me." You should try that or some version of it and see if it makes a difference.

    Also all of our kids, even when we have 1 or 2 spec. Ed are allowed to go to whatever center they want for however long they want. We only have a maximum number of kids at each, 4, to ensure everyone has equal material or toys. We do not set a time limit but do have a take turns list that we honor.
     
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