Every child wants to be accepted, appreciated, spoken to in a polite, respectful manner and wants to feel that he or she is a capable person.
If you can foster confidence in children, you’re well on your way to becoming a kindergarten teacher. Visit kindergarten classrooms as often as you can to see if the reality of this job is really what you imagine. Be prepared to spend time helping with coats and shoes as well as teaching skills.
If you’re thinking of becoming a teacher of young children, it’s helpful to consider and start practicing the skills necessary for the job.
1. Instructional skills
Learn about many types of instruction and curriculum.
Here are a few tips:
- Participate in lots of real classroom teaching experiences during your training
- Although you may feel nervous and on the spot during your first efforts, remember to relax and have fun.
- Provide opportunities for the children to explore, inquire, and experiment. Teaching is not about cramming facts into the children’s brains and having them fill out copious amounts of worksheets.
- Provide the children with something interesting to do and establish clear expectations for during, and after, the lesson and things should run smoothly.
- If children do not seem to understand a concept, always ask:
- How can I present this concept differently?
- Do the children have the vocabulary to understand this concept?
- Do I have to back up a few steps?
- What can I do differently?
- Never assume that young children understand what you are asking them to do.
- Always show them (don’t tell) and then give them hands-on experiences.
- When teaching preschool and kindergarten look for learning differences and offer a variety of activities and experiences.
2. Cultivate Patience and a Sense of Humor
Remember to smile and see the funny side of life! Little kids deserve to be around cheerful, enthusiastic educators. Leave your troubles and stress behind when you step through your classroom doors. “You learn what you practice!” one of my university profs used to say.
Little kids have on days and off days just like teachers. Be patient with your students and with yourself. Some days your well-planned lessons are a flop and other days a spontaneous lesson will evolve from an unexpected source. Be willing to scrap your plans and go with the flow.
Experience can only be gained through trial and error, so when things fall apart, give yourself a pat on the back for effort and start the process of creative problem solving again.
3. Learn to Set Boundaries
- Becoming a kindergarten teacher takes hours of work.
- Even if you love working with children you need to create boundaries to ensure you have a life beyond children or the classroom.
- The more systems you put into place, the more time you will save planning, looking for things and cleaning up. You don’t do it all the first year! Aim for a couple of systems per year.
4. Learn to Appreciate Creepy Crawlies
Once you get in the habit of bringing “living creatures” into your classroom and discover how easy it is to inspire reading and writing activities based on the kids’ interaction with them, you will be hooked!
Bringing nature inside is not difficult to set up, just keep in mind that most creature visits to the classroom should be no longer than a day if they do not have a proper habitat. They also need to be released in the same places they came from.
Worms in a large jar or pond water with tadpoles and other creatures can last a week or two. Emphasis on caring for and returning animals to their environment is an important part of environmental education for kids.