Implementing the following ideas leads to more effective kindergarten teaching. Children have a natural curiosity about their environment, and teaching them with an approach that hooks into this desire to learn, as well as increasing their understanding of a topic, and their ability to read, write, and reason, equals success.
When the students’ interests are kindled, they enjoy spending time investigating concepts and can be more easily motivated to take part in language arts and math activities.
1. Introduce a new topic with things to investigate
- Effective kindergarten teaching occurs when students are offered content, actual things to investigate (as opposed to only learning cute songs and completing worksheets about the topic).
- Important literacy and math concepts can be reinforced as content is explored.
- Learning a new concept is easier when it is repeated in many different subject areas.
- A child exploring the life cycle of a butterfly can express his/her new knowledge in many ways. He/she may act it out with creative movement and poetry, paint it with a large paper and paint, illustrate and label the stages in a science learning center and/or listen to related stories and songs.
Continue kindergarten topics for as long as the students demonstrate curiosity, I wonder type questions and investigations about the topic. Some topics, such as frog eggs to frogs or growing plants from seeds will continue for a given time and the nature of them changing continues to prompt the children to inquire about the topic. Avoid pushing a topic if the children have lost interest. Ask yourself if you are presenting enough “real objects”.
2. Keep Lessons Open Ended as Learning is Developmental
Some four-year olds have superb small motor coordination and draw and cut beautifully, but have delayed speech patterns. Other children may be verbally eloquent at four years of age but be physically uncoordinated and be at a scribbling stage in drawing.
- Effective kindergarten teaching happens when teachers remember that children develop physically and progress academically, socially and artistically at different rates.
- Just as some children get their first teeth at 4 months and others at 10 months, children’s abilities to observe and process information develops at varying rates.
- Offer open-ended activities to meet the developmental stages of all students. An open-ended activity is any activity that all children can have success with. The more advanced child may add words, a more complex drawing or use a higher level of thinking than a child at an earlier stage of development.
3. Provide lots of instruction, practice and time to learn new skills and concepts
No one learns to jump rope by only looking at the rope and exploring its properties. Effective kindergarten teaching happens when guided instruction and time to practice are scheduled into the kindergarten day.
- Be creative – there are lots of ways to practice skills using puzzles, games, diagrams and more.
- Do not automatically think “worksheet” when you think of skill practice.
- Practicing concepts and skills does not need to be dull and repetitive.