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


Classroom Quality Check List

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

Organization of Classroom Materials and Space

  • There are at least five centers in the classroom with labeled shelves/containers that are organized for independent use by children.  Noisy centers are not placed next to quiet centers (i.e., dramatic play and block areas should be together and not adjacent to the library area).

  • Children have a cozy area that is not used for active physical play where they can relax (i.e., the library area).

  • A space for privacy is set up where children can go to escape the pressures of the group.

  • Art or craft projects that result in look-alike products are rarely used.   Most of the displays on the walls are done by children and individualized.  The art is displayed at children’s eye level.

  • All products labeled “keep out of reach of children” are locked in a cabinet or drawer.

  • At least two types of blocks are made available to children with accessories in an area big enough for several children to play.

  • The dramatic play area includes a variety of themes (i.e., housekeeping, fantasy, work) and contains props representing diversity.

  • The nature/science area has books, games, activities, living things, and collections of natural objects for discovery.

Daily Schedule and Routines

  • Centers are made available to children for a third of their educational day (i.e., two hours of choice/center time in a six hour program) to promote choice, intentional play and to reinforce children’s problem-solving and decision-making skills.

  • Gross motor/outside time is available daily for no less than 45 minutes in a six hour program.  There is  both portable and stationary equipment made available that stimulate children’s skills at various levels.

  • Group times are paced appropriately based on the needs of the children (i.e., whole group time should  typically be between 10 and 15 minutes  and not more than 20 minutes).

  • Television and computer usage is limited (15-20 minutes maximum on computer for each child), appropriate, and used as one of many free choice activities.

  • Children are offered approximately a one hour rest period in a six hour program.

  • A wide selection of books is made available to children daily.  “Wide selection” refers to at least three examples of each of the following topics: fantasy; stories about people; factual; animals; science-related; cultural books; books showing different abilities. 

  • Sand and water tables are made available on a daily basis for children with a variety of toys accessible for play.

  • Math-related materials are made available daily that include counting objects; measuring materials, shapes, and objects with written numbers.

  • Fine motor materials are available for children’s use daily such as manipulatives, art materials, puzzles, and small building toys.

  • Music is made available as part of free choice and group time.

  • Health practices are taught to children regularly to encourage independence (i.e., put on own smock, wash hands properly, etc.).

  • Children are served family style meals in their classrooms.  Both children’s and teachers’ hands are washed before meals; and the tables are sanitized with a soapy water solution and then bleach water solution prior to eating.

  • Transitions are smooth throughout the day without long waiting periods.

Instructional and Assessment Approaches

  • 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 through routines, play, pictures, photos, books, puzzles, games, dolls, puppets, music, video, and computer software.

  • Creative art is encouraged where children show individual expression in their work.  Three-dimensional art is also encouraged and displayed.

  • During music time, creativity is encouraged and instruments/props are accessible for children’s use.

  • Children with disabilities are included in activities and modifications are made if needed in the program for full participation to occur. 

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

  • Teaching staff talk with children throughout the day about logical relationships and encourage children to reason and problem-solve.   Staff also have individual conversations with most of the children and ask open-ended questions.

  • Teaching staff show respect and warmth towards all children and encourage children to show respect for each other.

  • Teachers prompt children to elaborate on their conversations.

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

  • Teaching staff constantly supervise all children and show appreciation of children’s accomplishments.

  • Teachers are sitting with the children during meal times conversing with them and acting as good role models.

  • Children are encouraged to talk with their classmates about activities throughout the day.

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

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

  • Parents are welcomed, and regular communication occurs between teacher and families throughout the year.

*Based on the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale-Revised, by Harms, Clifford and Cryer.   Refer to the instrument for more information.