July 3 2016
In the last post I discussed part 1 in creating a classroom. This week I would like to hone in on an important concept that seems to ring true whether one is decorating a home or setting up a classroom. When I first got into the classroom and saw how the children lacked resources, my first instinct was to go small. I did not want to spend a lot of money so I bought little things here and there to set out for the kids. These items were mainly found at the Dollar Tree. Now, while I love the Dollar Tree and one certainly can find good things there, knowing what I know now, I could have saved money by just buying big things from the beginning. I had all these little random things that were mainly sensory play materials. I also used materials from the Dollar Tree to make a lot of centers. I never really had the results I wanted this way so I eventually forked the change and bought a train set. Once I saw how much the kids were engaged and growing in their logic, social skills, and creativity, it became easier for me to make these bigger purchases. And the reality is had I bought the bigger things first like stuffed animals, dolls, blocks, etc. I would have saved more money in the long run. These things were really the staple to the classroom and the kids were able to do and make whatever they wanted with them. A bunch of blocks could turn into a police station or a zoo. The stuffed animals could be a companion throughout the day or used in pretend play such as a dinosaur coming into a city. I wasted so much time, effort, and money on trying to go cheap that it really did not serve the purpose that I was intending it to at all. Less is more. The kids having a few quality toys was a whole lot better than the kids having many cheap things from the Dollar Tree.
I would think I would have already learned this lesson because it is something I had already noticed when decorating or when buying clothes. It usually works out that it is better for me to fork out the money for something I really want and will use than to buy lesser quality items or items I do not like as much simply because I did not want to spend the money. In the end, if we do not buy what is actually needed and will work then it will just be that not quite right shirt in the closet that is never worn. Similarly, not making the jump and buying the right resources for the classroom from the beginning will lead to students not having an environment in which they can grow. They will not have toys that they will want to use in productive ways and instead destructive behavior will be seen because the toys are not ones that lend themselves to creativity. I have seen this firsthand in other classrooms. Kids will be sitting either idle which is weird to see a child be or they will be throwing toys around and other such behavior but nothing that one could document as actual growth.