- Establish what your "attention grabber" method is and practice, practice, practice...Before we can even begin to worry about the fact that they can't write their name (or hold a pencil the right way for that matter!) and can't cut, we need to figure out how to command their attention. Whether your method is the monkey face, counting down, or clapping a pattern, your students need to know that when you make that request, it is time to stop, look, and listen. They do not come to you knowing this. Even if they were in a preschool, chances are good that it was a different signal than yours, so they all need to learn what your expectations are when they hear the signal.
- Positive Praise Goes a LONG way... Try as hard as you can to ignore all of the blurting and children getting out of their seats the first week of school. They are likely not doing it to be naughty or to interrupt you, but because they just don't know any better. Will it help them to constantly say "NO!"? Maybe, but chances are that they will learn from their classmates who are listening much more quickly. I am CONSTANTLY complimenting my children who are sitting on their bottoms listening, raising their hand to speak, and sitting at their table spot ready to work. I call them my "professional kinders" and say how quickly they are learning to be a wonderful student. They all want to be professionals and want to make me happy and do indeed follow suit!
3. Understand your students... Planning for the beginning of the year kindergarten should be thought of in 15 minute increments. That is the longest that the best kindergarten child can sustain his/her attention. They need to move even if it is just to their table spots after listening to a story. But, even better, incorporate movement songs and stories into your routine to engage their little brains (and get them loving to learn!). I use TONS of Dr. Jean and www.HeidiSongs.com to teach basic concepts as well as get them moving. They need time to get to know each other as well. That means extra recess, extra cooperative play times and longer snack breaks for the first couple of weeks of school. They aren't going to be optimal learners until they feel comfortable with you, their classmates and have tried everything that looks interesting in the classroom out. Don't worry about "losing academic time" at this point. If you do create a good balance of socializing and learning in the beginning, it will actually gain you more time to teach as the year goes on and give them the confidence they need to put their all into their academic learning.
4. Be an actress/actor...These children need to be entertained and it is your job to do it. Use
puppets to teach concepts, put a hat and funky glasses on (they will love to believe it is a
different teacher) to gain their attention for that last lesson of the day! Be excited about
learning and they will be, too!
What is some advice you have for beginning kindergarten teachers? Leave it in the comment section!