Happy back to school season! All in all, this time of year is exciting for kids, parents, and teachers. But if this is your first year teaching kindergarten, it can also feel overwhelming. In order to make sure your debut year goes smoothly, try out these teaching kindergarten tips and tricks!
1. Keep It Simple When Teaching Kindergarten
You have probably spent your years studying for your teaching degree and student teaching dreaming about the day when you have your very own classroom. Because of this, you have a lot of lofty goals and high hopes. For that reason, you’re chomping at the bit to start making the most educational, fun, and joyous classroom ever.
Although that all sounds wonderful, you might want to pump the brakes! Generally, getting the hang of teaching takes time. You might want to get your feet under you a bit more before you go rushing to get it all done. In fact, your first year might not be the time to try and revolutionize classroom organization, scheduling, seating, or curriculum. Stick with the basics to learn your teaching kindergarten personal philosophy before you start trying to mix it up.
Specifically, start with a few simple goals that you’d like to work on. For example, focus the most on getting to know your students, new coworkers, and school system. Building a strong relationship with your class, the families of your students, and the rest of your teaching team is going to go a long way in making sure that you can succeed in your first year of teaching.
Don't Try To Do Everything At Once
Once you’ve got a great handle on your system, you can start trying out new methods or strategies. However, you might be well into your second or third year before you feel stable enough to start messing with your system. But that’s perfectly okay! It’s better to go slow and feel comfortable and confident the whole way than overexert yourself and wind up burning out.
2. Build In Play Time
Don’t forget that this isn’t just your first year in school. It’s also the first time around for your students! For instance, some of your kindergarten students coming into school may have never stepped foot into a classroom environment before. Not to mention, many may even be brand new to being in a large group of students. With so much new information to process, they’re going to be stressed and tired just as much as you are.
Plan Time For Breaks
Fortunately, the solution is the same for both you and your students: take breaks! Build some time into your daily schedule where your students can just play. Together with regular outside time or free play in the classroom, this can make a huge difference for your students. In fact, having unstructured time where they can do as they wish is going to help them be able to come back to the class refreshed and relaxed, ready to learn.
Not to mention, this time is also going to be critical for your own success. Spending all day with your classroom can take a toll, and you need time to spend one-on-one time with your students, grading papers, answering emails, and planning the day’s activities. Take advantage of the time you have and don’t be afraid to give your class – and yourself – extra breaks when you need them!
3. When Teaching Kindergarten, Get Close With the Parents
For many teachers, parents are a source of great anxiety. In particular, the idea of angry parents judging your work in the first year of teaching can be scary. However, getting to know and work closely with the parents of your students is one of the great joys of teaching kindergarten! Remember that parents want you to succeed just as much as you do. Many of them are excited for their child to start their first year of school and are eager to help you.
Use Your School's PTA
If your school’s PTA organizes designated Class Parents then get in touch with your assigned helpers as early as possible. Work with your class parents and PTA to figure out what can be done to support you for your first year. A lot of the time you’d be surprised at the kind of help you can get if only you ask. In fact, some PTAs will even go so far as to fundraise to provide you with some extra classroom funds.
Enlist Parents to Help When Teaching Kindergarten
If your school doesn’t organize designated volunteers, organize it yourself! If you have a back-to-school parent night, use it to solicit volunteers from the parents. But if you don’t have a chance to address the parents in person, include it in your back-to-school communications home via paper handouts or email. Although not all of them are going to be available or enthusiastic to help, you’d be surprised how many parents are willing to lend a helping hand!
Specifically, enlist parents to come in to assist with classroom events, help prepare craft materials, gather supplies for upcoming projects, and read for the class during story time. Don’t be afraid to rely on your parent volunteers! Not only does getting closer with your class parents reduce your workload, but also involves the families in your school’s community and enriches your students’ experience of kindergarten.
4. Get Help When You're Teaching Kindergarten (Especially for the first time)
All in all, your first year of teaching kindergarten is going to be a lot easier with a few extra hands helping you! Don’t feel like you need to do everything from scratch for yourself. Assemble a team around you to support and assist you throughout the entire school year.
For example, your administration team can help you locate resources, establish a curriculum, and coordinate supplies and training. Ask the rest of your teaching team or mentor teachers at your school for advice. Often other teachers can also help by sharing their supplies, projects, and curriculum materials with you. Your coworkers will also be a great emotional support system for you. Even if you feel overwhelmed in your first year of teaching, they are there to support you.
Build An Online Community When Teaching Kindergarten
Also, there are lots of ways to make a community with other teachers online. For example, Facebook groups for kindergarten teachers can be a great place to vent your frustrations, get advice, and find support from other people who understand your struggle. Websites like Teachers Pay Teachers are great for accessing classroom decorations, handouts, projects, and forms made by other teachers so you don’t have to make everything from scratch.
5. Don't Overdo It
As teachers, you always want to go the extra mile to take care of your kids. You’re willing to work hard and put in the hours for your students. At the same time, it can feel like you need to measure up to “better” teachers. Especially during your first year of teaching kindergarten, there is always more work to be done.
However, remember that taking care of yourself is just as important as having the perfect classroom. After all, you can’t be the best teacher you can be if you’re burned out, frustrated, and stressed. Taking the time to rest and having breaks is going to make you a better teacher, too.
To begin with, draw firm boundaries for yourself by limiting the time you spend staying late or working from home. For example, taking time off might mean not checking your work email on Saturdays. Similarly, it might mean leaving school each day by a certain time. What it means for you to enforce a healthy work/life balance may look different from others, but the goal is the same.
Remember These Tips If It's Your First Year Teaching Kindergarten!
Overall, the first year of teaching kindergarten may be a stressful and wild ride. However, it’s also an absolute blast and a joyous experience. Your degree in teaching kindergarten couldn’t possibly prepare you for the satisfaction you’ll feel after successfully completing your first year. Following these tips for teaching kindergarten will make your ride much smoother, and before you know it you’ll have reached summer!
Read More Here
Yassah-Rose Early Learning – 4 Simple Routines that Make Back to School a Breeze
- Jennifer Beaupre – The 7 Things Teachers Wish They Knew their First Year Teaching
- Teacher Writer – Teacher Tips from Experts that You Probably Never Learned in School
2 thoughts on “5 Awesome Tips For Your First Year Teaching Kindergarten”
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True! Keep it simple and don’t overdo it. Teaching kindergarten students is really fun and a great experience, but teachers should not forget their boundaries either. Thank you so much for this.