New Jersey Department of Education

DOE A to Z: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

Division of Early Childhood Education

Classroom Checkups


The following items help develop classroom environments conducive to advancing student learning in all subject areas and domains:

Organization of Classroom Materials and Space  

  • Materials are organized in the classroom in specific locations/centers where investigations/activities can occur.
  • Most materials are accessible to children.

  • Children’s work is displayed at their eye level.  Three-dimensional work is included.

  • There is a relaxation area as well as a space set aside for a child to work alone. 

Daily Schedule and Routines

  • Children spend most of the day in small groups.

  • Children play outside on a daily basis.

  • Health and safety practices are instilled (i.e., first aid equipment and crisis information are available, children and teachers wash their hands before meals, special precautions are taken for children with disabilities).

  • Transitions are smooth without long waiting times for children to begin another activity.

Instructional and Assessment Approaches 

  • Hands-on materials are used by children in all subject areas.

  • Children work on projects that require skills from multiple-subject areas.

  • Teachers use a variety of teaching methods to accommodate children’s learning styles.

  • All children with disabilities participate in all or almost all of the same classroom activities with necessary modifications.

  • A performance-based assessment/portfolio system is used.  Teachers collect data on each child’s development and learning to inform their practices to further support learning.

  • Diversity is present in the classroom across multiple areas and integrated throughout daily activities.

  • Computers are used by children to reinforce skills, for further research purposes, teaching a new skill, word processing, or drawing.  Children have internet access, with a teacher’s support.

Interactions and Relationship Building (Teacher-Student; Student-Student; Teacher-Family)

  • Teachers prompt children to elaborate on their conversations.

  • Teachers ask children to explain their answers.

  • Teachers have informal conversations with children that demonstrate the teacher’s desire to learn more about the students’ interests and the experiences/background knowledge they bring to school.

  • Teachers encourage children to work through and solve conflicts.

  • Teachers model and encourage positive interactions among children in the classroom.

  • Teaching staff use non-punitive discipline methods and involve children in resolving conflicts.

  • Teachers facilitate group discussions among children that engage children in higher order thinking skills and build upon prior knowledge.

  • Children are encouraged to make choices and decisions throughout the day (e.g., related to activities in which they will engage, materials they will use, etc).

  • Children have many opportunities to talk with their classmates about activities throughout the day.

  • Teachers have regular communication with families and encourage family involvement by providing a variety of opportunities.

*These tips are based on the Assessment of Practices in Early Elementary Classrooms (APEEC), by Hemmeter, Maxwell, Ault, and Schuster.