Teaching kindergarten can be hard. The kindergarten years are such a critical time for students, and as the teacher, it is your job to help lay the foundation for their future learning. On top of that, kindergarteners are still learning how to go to schoolas they don’t have much school experience yet. While rewarding, it can also be exhausting!
There may be days where you feel ineffective as a kindergarten teacher. We’ve all been there! Teaching early literacy can sometimes be especially hard. Between sight words , phonics, letter recognition, early writing skills, and more, there is certainly no surplus of time for kindergarten classes! If you’re feeling this way, here are 5 secrets to help make your life as a kindergarten literacy teacher easier!
Tip #1: Get your students interested to encourage new skills
One of the best ways that you can ensure your teaching will be effective is to get your students motivated. In order to do this, you will need to get them excited about learning new skills. Here are a few ideas for getting your students interested in early literacy:
●Build a relationship with your students. Get to know them by asking questions and talking to them. This will not only help you learn students’ interests, but they will also learn to trust you more which in turn will motivate them in their learning.
●Read books out loud to the class.Specifically choose books that match the interests of your students. You could also allow students to choose the books by picking one student each day to choose one from the classroom library, or allowing students to bring books from home.
●Stock your classroom library with your students’ favorite books.Allow them to submit suggestions, then check with your school librarian about checking them out for your class. Your students will be more encouraged to learn how to read when they see the books they recommended on your shelves!
Tip #2: Sing songs to help students learn basic literacy concepts.
One great way to help your students learn new concepts is by putting it in a song! Kids at the kindergarten age level learn really well through music. This can be a great way to teach them things like sight words, letter sounds, digraphs, and more! You can find lots of great songs for teaching these concepts on YouTube. Channels like Jack Hartmann and Have Fun Teaching has simple but engaging songs that would be easy to teach your kindergarteners. Or, you can make up your own! Just make sure they are catchy and easy to remember.
Tip #3: Teaching kindergarten literacy through play will keep students engaged.
“Play is the work of the child,” as Maria Montessori once said, and it couldn’t be more true! Children are meant to play. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t learn through their play. Children are constantly learning! Kindergarten teachers can allow children to play while also fostering learning opportunities. Many everyday games and toys can be given an educational twist -you just have to get creative! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
●Label blocks or building bricks with letters for students to practice building “word towers.” This can be used for sight words, or they can practice spelling their names. You can also challenge them to build a simple word (like “cat”) and then see what other sight words, they might be able to make by switching out only one letter (like “hat,” “cut,” or “cap”).
●Matching games are so versatile and can be used to help students practice many different literacy concepts. Students can match uppercase letters to lowercase letters, sight words to a matching picture, beginning sounds with a picture and word that starts with that sound, etc.
●Practice letter sounds by playing “I Spy” in the classroom. The teacher or a student can identify an item in the classroom that starts with a certain letter and then name the letter the item starts with (i.e. “I spy something starting with the letter ‘a'”). Students will then search the room for items that start with the letter “a” and say them out loud until the correct item is found. This gives students good practice with identifying the beginning sound without seeing the actual letter.
●Bingo is another game that is incredibly versatile, and kids love it! You can create simple bingo boards using sight words. The teacher will simply call out a word and the students must identify it on their board! (Bonus: students can practice writing their sight words, too, by creating their own bingo board! Give them a blank grid and have them randomly right one sight word in each box. Then play!)
Tip #4: Make real world connections.
Making real world connections to the things you are learning is powerful. Seeing how the things they are learning at school apply to real life helps create a buy-in for the student that makes them want to learn more! As you read books with your students, stop and ask them questions that get them to draw on their own experiences so they better understand the story. Incorporate practice into real life activities like writing a shopping list. You can also encourage students to keep an eye out for sight words so they can see just how common they really are.
Tip #5: Teaching kindergarten students literacy with other subjects.
If you teach multiple subjects, one handy time-saving trick is to incorporate literacy into the other subjects you teach! This way, your students are practicing two different skills at once which will free up some classroom time to focus on other things. You can read books about things you are learning in science or social studies. These subjects can also make good journal prompts -or oral discussion prompts, if your students aren’t ready for writing yet. If you have sight words that relate to something you’re learning in another subject area (like number words in math, for example), you can tie those into various activities for some extra practice!Teaching kindergarten can be difficult, but it can also be incredibly fun! Hopefully these 5 tips have given you some fresh new ideas to bring into your classroom. Implementing these techniques and ideas into your teaching is sure to help make your life easier and get your students excited about learning!