Kindergarten is a unique world. Keep reading for some tips for teaching kindergarten to help you thrive as a teacher.
Whew! You have an essential role as a kindergarten teacher. Some days you will be covered in tears, boogers, and other unmentionable fluids all before lunch.
It takes a special kind of person to preserver through teaching kindergarten.
By caring about how you teach and looking for tips for teaching kindergarten, you show that you are a good teacher because you want the best for your students.
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Tips for Teaching Kindergarten
Play is Important
It is so easy to get caught up in the standards and the must-dos on your lesson plans.
Everything you do in your classroom has to be calculated and have a purpose.
But research shows that kids learn best through play in the early years (all the way up to age 8!).
Kids can learn speaking, communicating, decision-making, taking turns, character development, and so many other skills all through free play.
Giving your littles time to play and enjoy themselves is important to keep them happy and willing to do work.
We have a post all about how to handle indoor recess and ideas for indoor recess games. These both can be helpful in encouraging play.
Take Brain Breaks
Students that are five can only focus for five minutes. Students that are six can focus for six minutes.
When teaching a lesson, schedule a brain break when switching subjects.
This can be as simple as having them skip to the door and back to their seats, or it can be a brain break fitness video.
There are also movement or brain break cards you can download and pull a few of those to do while you are transitioning.
The Best Brain Breaks for Kids is a great post to help you get started with brain breaks.
Make Your Day Predictable
Visual schedule cards are a must in kindergarten.
One of the best tips for teaching kindergarten is to stick to a schedule.
If the schedule changes daily because your specials are at different times each day (ugh), have schedule cards with pictures on them.
A book for reading, numbers for math, a music note for music, an apple for snack time, etc., will help your nonreaders to know what is coming next.
Having the schedule posted will stop some of the “what are we doing now!?” questions.
Plus, if your students know what is coming next, then they can be better prepared for it.
If you are homeschooling, check out our post about making a homeschool schedule.
Kids thrive on laughter and games. Letting your guard down and being silly with your littles shows them that you are human and that you are someone they would want to be around.
Play with them at recess, tell them jokes, and mispronounce something to let them correct you.
Kindergarteners are visual people. They struggle to picture things in their brains.
By making lessons hands-on, you are helping them to understand it better.
Find ways to make learning hands-on.
Math is the most simple to make hands-on. Have LEGO or counters ready in baggies so they can be easily passed out to your students.
Let your students use items to help solidify their learning.
We have some great posts about How to Teach Shapes to Kindergarten Students, Homeschool Kindergarten Supplies, and How to Teach Tens and Ones to Kindergarten that all go into more detail about hands-on learning.
Kindergarteners are unpredictable. They burst into tears for seemingly no reason.
You will be reading a book, and someone will start to cry because the cat in the book reminded them of their grandma’s cat that died three years ago.
Be patient. Give love. Allow for things to change.
Have items ready to go. Kindergarteners wait for no one.
If you aren’t prepared, they will be out of their seats and running around.
If you haven’t already, get a box of sandwich baggies and a box of gallon baggies.
Use these baggies to divide up manipulatives, cards, tools, and anything else that needs to be contained but handed out quickly.
When the items are already divided out, it makes it a breeze to move on to the next part of the lesson.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
When teaching something new, like lining up, practice, practice, practice! You may think they have it, but keep practicing!
Try timing them to see how quickly (and safely) they can do the task at hand.
Social Skills are Important
If you have taught older grades, it’s a big change to have to teach social skills.
Take the time to show your students (and read them stories) about what good friends do.
Don’t assume they know.
This is another reason play is so important. It allows your students to practice their social skills.
Social Emotional Learning Activities are a great way to help practice these skills.
Know Dismissal Plans
Oh, dismissal. Probably the hardest part of the day is facilitating people going where they need to go.
Some students live very hectic lives. No two days are the same.
Have a dismissal plan.
Make a sheet with student names and if they ride the bus, get picked up (and by who), or if they go somewhere else.
The day of the week or the phases of the moon (ha!) may change dismissal plans.
Also- have a plan for what the kids are doing in the classroom while they wait to be dismissed.
This can easily turn into a nightmare if you don’t have a plan.
Singing a clean-up song will soon become second nature to you. Kindergarteners are receptive to music.
From a calendar song to a clean-up song, they all have a place in your kindergarten classroom.
As always, teach your littles what the song means and how you want them to do the task (clean up, line up, etc.).
Find Time to Rest and Recover
Teaching kindergarten is hard work. It’s like you are constantly on a stage trying to impress five and six-year-olds.
Find a way to help yourself relax. It may be having a piece of chocolate at lunch or taking a bath at night.
Do something for yourself, whatever that looks like for you.
You are giving yourself all day to your little people, and you need to recharge your battery.
This could be one of the most important tips for teaching kindergarten! Don’t overlook it! Be intentional with yourself.
We have a post all about teacher stress. Be sure to check it out!
Kindergarten Teaching Tips
Teaching kindergarten is no walk in the park. Having some tips for teaching kindergarten under your belt will help you to make the most of your time teaching kindergarten.