I am linking up with Mary from Sharing Kindergarten to share some tips about teaching Kindergarten. I think this is a great linky party! Thank you Mary for hosting it.
If you are new to this grade level get ready for a great year! Kindergarten is the BEST! I love teaching Kindergarten. Their love of learning is contagious. Now, don't get me wrong, Kindergarten can be tough, it is not always coloring and singing songs. These kiddos are babies and you have to teach them EVERYTHING! That being said, after you do teach them how to be a student and you start to get into the groove of the school year, it is so rewarding. To watch them grow and learn so much in a year is inspiring. Please read below for some tips I have learned along the years that I hope can help you along the way!
This first tip is not meant to scare you! I am just trying to inform and speak from experience. These sweet kiddos come in as babies. Some have been to preschool, some have not. The first 25 days of school can be fun, tough, and challenging. A wise teacher I know who has mentored me told me the first 25 days of Kindergarten are the hardest and I couldn't agree more. After 25 days I feel as though routines have started to become second nature, procedures are starting to stick, and your classroom is on its way to becoming a well oiled machine.
There will be times where they are crying, and perhaps you are crying. (just kidding)
Just be ready to be patient, be prepared to explain, and reexplain, and reexplain some more...and use your weekends to rest up for the upcoming week! Oh, and be sure to make NO plans the very first day of school, you WILL be asleep before 8 p.m., true story! ;)
As I stated above, these kindergarten kiddos are coming in with some experience of school or none at all. Be prepared to explain EVERYTHING, to students and parents. I am not trying to be smart when I say be prepared to explain everything to the parents too. This might be their oldest going to school and they will also have a lot of questions. I try to make them feel as comfortable as possible and reassure them that no questions is "silly" just so that they feel comfortable and know that I am here for them as well!
You will be explaining a lot, from how to sit in their chair, how to hold a pair of scissors, to how many times to push the paper towel button in the bathroom. "1,2,3 just enough for me!" Oh, on that note, I would highly recommend not making scissors, glue, or dry erase markers easily accessible to your students on the first day. I am speaking from experience when I say that they will pick up anything that is in their eye sight and use it where they see fit. Glue under the table or all over their hands, exploring scissors to cut their hair or perhaps their new friend's hair, and dry erase markers for coloring.
My first year of kindergarten I had all their tables set up perfectly. Each table had crayons, scissors, dry erase markers, glue, and pencils. I quickly learned after they started their very first activity that they will grab whatever they find exciting to use on their paper even if your directions did not include those materials.
I have learned that on the first few days to put just pencils and crayons in their buckets and then as I explain how to use the different tools I add them to their buckets.
I try to keep my instructions simple and to the point. I also have visuals posted on the board to go along with my directions. This is extremely helpful for your English Language Learners too!
I try to thoroughly explain my routines and expectations and we practice, practice, practice. For example, on the first day of school after they have come in and found their seat, I explain the routine of coming into the classroom in the mornings and then I have one student demonstrate it for us, and then the whole class tries it.
It is important to have fun! This can be an extremely scary time for your Kindergartners. Some may be leaving their Mom or Dad for the first time. I try to incorporate a lot of songs and fun sayings into our daily routines. Dr. Jean has some fabulous attention getters and cheers to incorporate into your day to day activities that helps to make learning fun. Try to schedule an extra recess into your day the first few weeks or even extra center time. Allow your kiddos times to work together and learn how to interact with their new friends. This is also a great time to sit back and observe to see how they work with their peers.
Also, it took me some time to realize that if my lesson plans did not go according to my plan they would never know. If you have extra time throw in an activity that you did not have planned. Spend this time getting to know your kiddos and build that strong classroom community where your kiddos respect each other and feel comfortable.
Movement breaks are a lifesaver in K! These kiddos are not used to sitting for long periods of time and they definitely have to build their stamina. In the beginning, try to keep sitting time to small increments of time (5-10 minutes). I find the first few days are so tedious and I do a lot of talking because there are a lot of rules and procedures to go through. Try to break it up as much as possible. Play a fun ABC song or counting song, play Simon says, put on GoNoodle or even have them move from the carpet to their chairs. Anything to get them up and get the wiggles out!
I hope this post has helped anyone who is new to this grade level! As I stated above Kindergarten is the BEST! I love it. It is a grade level that is unique and I feel as though all Kindergarten Teachers have an unspoken bond because we are in the inside and understand just how special this grade level is. If anyone ever needs anything feel free to email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am here to help in any way possible.
Thanks for stopping by!