Keep motivation intrinsic
Young children are generally motivated to learn about everything. Unless they have been made fun of regularly, when investigating or presenting their knowledge, they usually have a strong desire to find out and share information.
One of the best teaching methods is to motivate children by modeling enthusiasm and curiosity. Motivation comes from within (intrinsic) and from outside (extrinsic). Making too much fuss of any one child can result in a competitive attitude in the class. Model curiosity and asking questions about the topics studied.
Reinforce thinking processes rather than praising the child. Try, “That is an interesting way that you sorted your blocks. Tell me what you were thinking.” Then, “Sarah sorted her blocks in a different way. Both ways of sorting are interesting.”
Have children describe or share their new knowledge regularly
When children have an opportunity to communicate their new knowledge to patient adults it helps solidify concepts. It often takes children time to find the correct words to explain their thinking.
- Supply the students with descriptive words as they are playing or working, e.g. “Notice how dull those rocks are, the other ones are shiny”. This extends their vocabulary and increases their ability to share new discoveries.
Remember that children need to be active
If kindergarten students have been sitting still too long, they will quickly let you know when it’s time to move.
- Well-planned, interesting learning plans fail if the children need a break.
- Go for walks around the school, jump up and down, act out a story, do anything that gets the blood pumping around. It results in good circulation and more alert studentsScheduling lots of movement breaks throughout the day is an invaluable best teaching practice.
Be Sensitive to Children’s Needs
One thing I learned early in my teaching career is that learning doesn’t happen if a child is over tired, hungry, upset, scared or worried. Learning to be flexible and understanding with young children is a skill that will serve you well in your educational career. At times, children need to get away from everyone and be left alone.
A small space, such as under your desk, works well for some students who are too overwhelmed by home or other circumstances, to cope with their peers or their teacher.
If a student is hungry, it’s easier to let her eat part of her lunch early or to provide a snack, than to try to force the child to concentrate on a task until the scheduled eating time.
Inexperienced teachers sometimes misinterpret a child’s unwillingness to participate as stubbornness or bad behavior. It’s good to remember…
- That children often do not have the vocabulary to express themselves.
- To use reflective listening to help children understand what is upsetting them.
- That sometimes children work well in groups and this helps them learn to share and develop ideas and at other times they need to be alone with ample time to figure things out.
- To relax and have fun with your students!
Maintain a classroom atmosphere of warmth and acceptance.For some kindergarten children, your classroom will be one of the few places where their opinions and ideas have been heard and valued.