The Importance of Giving Students Choices During Center Time

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Help! My students keep picking the same centers over and over. What should I do differently? This is one of the top questions that I get asked. First, know that this is OK! In Pre-K, TK, and Kindergarten, when kids pick the same center we need to realize that it is normal. Kids will work at something because it is serving a purpose for them. That’s why I want to talk about the importance of giving students choices during center time – even when they keep choosing the same center!

*For more tips on how to create a positive AND playful learning environment in your classroom, be sure to join us in P.L.A.Y. (Playful Learning All Year)!

Do your kids always choose the same center? Giving students choices during center time in Pre-K & Kindergarten is important!

The Importance of Giving Students Choices During Center Time

When kids choose the same center over and over this is serving a purpose that meets their needs. Sometimes that purpose may be more social than academic. We know that meeting these social needs can be even more important and valuable in an early childhood classroom. 

These needs aren’t as obvious to us so let’s look at this example… let’s say you have a student who just always wants the play dough writing center. Like ALWAYS! It’s their jam. If you remove all the limits around the writing center, odds are they will maybe do it 10 times in a row but it WILL phase out.

Sometimes their wanting it so badly is out of the restrictions put around it or the fear that “this is their only time with it.”

Even when students pick a fun play dough center, they are strengthening important skills.

But, what about meeting their needs and standards and requirements? YOU are in charge of the environment, so what students are interacting with should be meeting their needs in various ways.

When you stop putting limits on centers and ditch rotations, you have a lot more time for small groups where you will get even further with kids academically than if you had set rotations. 

So take a deep breath and know that when you have kids choosing the same center over and over, you are meeting their needs academically AND in ways that you can’t even see.

When students choose centers with other kids, they are building important social skills.

We are doing important work as early educators. We are making sure that our students are developing strong skills in all areas. It’s hard work but so rewarding!

Want to stress less with even more “must-try” tips while learning how to create a “Playful Learning” environment?

(even if you “aren’t allowed to play”)

If you want to incorporate playful learning, free-flowing centers, routines, and more in your Pre-K or Kindergarten classroom, then you will want to be sure to join me in P.L.A.Y. (Playful Learning All Year)!

This course is a deep dive into practical ways that you can create a playful learning environment in your classroom!

It’s going to be awesome (you can check out more about it HERE) and I can’t wait to learn together when the virtual doors open.

The Kindergarten Connection
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The Importance of Giving Students Choices During Center Time

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