In daycare, learning centers are structured parts of the classroom where children engage in self-directed activities. Learning centers focus on different areas of learning, including music, manipulatives, reading, art, and sometimes STEM projects. Learning centers foster children’s independence to prepare them for the world beyond daycare.
How Learning Centers Grow Children’s Independence
Each child prefers different activities over the others. A child may love art, while another child gravitates towards science and nature. Teachers allow children free time to choose a center they love. The best way to help a child foster independence and self-awareness is to discuss their interests. Once a child finds a center that fancies their interest, teachers will see their independence grow. Teachers do circulate children towards all of the centers. This way, children can develop independent competency in all areas of learning. Not every child will become an art major or math genius, but all children need a certain level of exposure to each subject. Well-rounded intelligence prepares us for real life and opportunities.
Gardner’s Eight Areas of Intelligence and Learning Centers
Howard Gardner believed humans have eight different types of intelligence and that each of us is dominant in certain areas. This theory is called Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Most centers reflect the eight areas of intelligence. Here are some of the centers that include each of these eight bits of intelligence:
- Linguistic intelligence is responsible for speaking, reading, writing, and analyzing the meaning of written materials. Most preschool classes have reading centers. Another option for teachers is to include tools for tracing letters, numbers, and words. Computer games and books with audio tracks help children connect phonics with written words.
- Logical and Mathematical intelligence allows people to analyze problems, create data, and solve numerical equations. Manipulative centers are perfect for developing a child’s sense of data. Children can practice counting and splitting up data with manipulatives. Teachers can also set up science centers to educate little ones on measuring data. Calculators will help introduce them to numbers and problem-solving.
- Spatial intelligence refers to the ability to understand and change space. This intelligence allows us to visualize 3d and 2d images. Centers that stimulate spatial intelligence include any manipulative, building, sensory, or art centers. Building a sandcastle with a moat allows kids to give life to what they visualize in 3D.
- Bodily-kinesthetic energy refers to the intelligence responsible for controlling the body’s movement and maximizing bodily potential. We use this intelligence to perform fine (playing instruments and activities such as sewing) and gross motor skills (dancing or sports). Sensory table, blocks, music, manipulatives, and the dramatic center could foster bodily-kinesthetic independence.
- Musical intelligence is the ability to create and recognize tone, timbre, pitch, and rhythm. Music centers are wonderful for musically inclined children.
- Interpersonal intelligence is responsible for empathizing, connecting, and understanding others. People with high interpersonal intelligence cooperate well with others. Drama and reading centers enable them to empathize and connect with the world around them.
- Intrapersonal intelligence allows us to observe and understand our motives, desires, and feelings. This intelligence allows us to control our behavior and influence the behavior of others. Drama, art, and reading centers may help the child express themselves and learn to self-evaluate.
- Naturalist intelligence refers to the ability to recognize how nature operates. Children curious about the earth, weather, Outerspace, seasons, plants, or animals probably have high naturalist intelligence. Science and nature centers allow children to explore the different aspects of nature.
These different forms of intelligence help teachers develop their centers and direct their students to the appropriate avenue. Parents may ask their child’s teacher which center they prefer or share what their child likes with their teacher. Well-rounded daycares offer children the opportunity to explore all eight areas of intelligence through learning centers.
Sources: childcare.extension.org/simplypsychology.org nwcommons.nwciowa.edu/