Becoming a kindergarten teacher is a great accomplishment, but many, if not all, new teachers get nervous when it’s time to begin the first year. Surviving the first year as a kindergarten teacher is another accomplishment entirely, but with the right training combined with the right tips to get started, you will not only survive, but thrive during this time.
Get to Know Your Standards During the First Six Weeks of School
Look at the first report card. What will you be assessing? What data will you need? What are the kindergarten standards for your district? If you are in your first year of teaching, don’t worry too much about the year as a whole. Start with the first 6-9 weeks so you have a jumping off point for your lessons. Some lesson ideas are great but will work better later in the year. Focus on what you need to teach first, and as you get more comfortable, move beyond the standards and add in those extras.
Develop a Good Planning System and Keep Those Lessons Short
A kindergarten lesson should be a maximum of fifteen minutes. They just don’t have the attention span to pay attention for much longer and moving every fifteen minutes will keep them engaged and stop off-task behaviors from getting started. Brain breaks, songs, and reading books are a great way to break up the lessons. Kindergarten teachers need to figure out their best planning system.
Establish a Daily Routine with Effective Transitions
Kindergarten students thrive on routine. When they know what to expect, they are much more likely to be successful. While little adjustments will happen throughout the year, your kindergarteners will be more effective students if they know that they arrive at school, put their things in their cubby, move to a table for morning work, gather on the rug for morning meeting, and then hear a read aloud than if every day is a surprise of what happens next. Transitioning is another way that kindergarten teachers can maintain control while allowing the students to move. Instead of sending them all to the rug, use the chance to incorporate a song, creative movement, or practice literacy skills.
Break it All Down for Your Students
Remember that your students are new to school too, so don’t assume they know anything about how to make it through a school day. The first two weeks of school should be all about getting your students used to school and lengthening their attention spans for lessons. Kindergarten teachers spend time teaching what to do if you need to blow your nose – and even how to blow your nose. Breaking down all the small stuff from the beginning is crucial to setting your kindergarteners up for success in the classroom. You’ll give mini lessons in how to hold a pencil, how to cut, how to color, how to stand in line, how to sit on the carpet, how to move from point A to point B, what to do when you finish a paper, how to raise their hands when they have a question, how to arrive and how to pack up, and how to clean up a mess.
Successful kindergarten teachers also take these first few weeks of covering all the basics to make sure that their classroom management expectations are set. Everything can be a teachable moment. You may feel like you’ve done nothing but explain basics during your first few weeks, but investing the time in the beginning of the year can set you up for success for the remainder of the year.
Find the Right Program for Becoming a Kindergarten Teacher
If you are considering becoming a kindergarten teacher, choosing the right program for yourself is essential. You need one that will balance everything you will need in your career as a kindergarten teacher, from time spent in the classroom with students to time spent learning about early childhood education. The right program will understand that being a kindergarten teacher is as much about teaching social skills and classroom management as it is about teaching early literacy skills. If you are considering becoming a kindergarten teacher, take a good look at the program you choose.
The right foundation is important for your kindergarten student, and the right foundation is important for you as their teacher. Choosing the right program for your degree and certification is crucial to your success as a kindergarten teacher. Once you have the right tools to get started, you will be successful and make it through your first year knowing you’ve given a class of kindergarteners the best start to their educational journey. Athena Career Academy offers an accredited early childhood education program taught by knowledgeable faculty who are invested in your success. To learn more, contact our admissions team today!