1) Be nice. Yes, that’s my number one tip. Why? Because I believe that kindness is the most important thing to bring to almost any situation. And in kindergarten? Think about it. Many of your kids are coming to school for the first time. They’re tender, uncertain and scared. Even if they’ve been to pre-K, this is often their first full day, or their first full-on academic year in school. I believe that teaching is instruction AND inspiration. It’s up to the teacher to set the tone, and show kids how nice school can be.
So should you smile on the first day of school? Of course! Smile from the depths of your soul, when appropriate. Remember, you’re not just teaching the 3 Rs, you’re teaching social skills, too. If you’re kind by example, you’re teaching the children how to be kind too. After all, you want kindergarten to be pleasant for everyone, including yourself. It’s win-win, all around.
2) Be firm. Sorry to break it to you, but you’re probably in big trouble if you’re ONLY nice! Be nice and also firm. Show the kids exactly what’s expected of them. Show them step by step and have them practice. Give them feedback—thank them when they’re helpful, and gently correct them if needed. Discuss why one way is better than another, so kids internalize the rationale. And accept no less than their best.
3) Have fun. I’ll repeat: HAVE FUN!!! Hellooo…Kindergarten means child’s garden. It’s a place to learn through doing, dancing, singing, playing, exploring, creating…and of course thinking. Every time you bring life to your lesson, you’re honoring the spirit of kindergarten. So don’t just teach the writing mechanics (start with a capital, use lowercase, leave a space between words...) sing the writing rubric in a song. Don’t just count to 100, have kids dance to a counting song. Let kids make number chart robots, and have kids write or copy a sentence about it. Create bulletin boards that are as creative to look at as they are to make. In short, create a child’s garden.
If you’re a new kindergarten teacher, you’re entering a wonderful world! If you’d like tons of tips for new kindergarten teachers, along with step-by-step scripts, rules, posters, printables, songs, and many other resources that you can use all year, take a look at my Kindergarten Mega-Bundle. I think it will help you on your journey.