Preparing Kindergarteners to be Lifelong Learners

Kindergarteners need some old fashioned ways. If you have been around education for a while, especially kindergarten, you know it has changed. Kindergarten seems to have become something like first grade, part one.

Has anyone else noticed that? If you are new to the education game, perhaps this seems normal. But it's not. Kindergarten should be, well, kindergarten.

What has changed? Kindergarten used to be a real "garden" of children. A time and place for nurturing. Children used to listen to stories. They would explore painting and coloring. Building blocks, make believe kitchens, playing store, were all part of the kindergarten picture: Making friends and learning to share.

Was this all fun and games? Absolutely not! Don't let anyone ever tell you that. During this so-called "playtime," children are learning how to interact with each other. They are working together.

Critical thinking is being developed as they decide the rules of these make-believe games and drawings. Their imaginations are running wild.

These are the very building blocks of being great future students, but the blocks are being shuttered away. And that's a shame. Of course writing and spelling their names is important. Sure they need numbers and alphabet. But worksheets? Homework? Drill and kill? Just another "first" grade? Stop the insanity. Kindergarten was invented to be different. Not to be just another grade level.

Teachers have brought this upon themselves actually. We are not active enough in developing curriculum. This is left to college academia. We also have done a poor job in later grades, so we feel the need to start early. Has this actually helped? Absolutely not. It's made things worse. We now have parents sitting a child out until they are older. That's insane. The child will not be ahead of the game, but severely behind!

What's the solution? At first glance, if you are a kindergarten teacher, you may say, "I have to do what they tell me." Yes indeed. But you you don't have to necessarily do it one way. Your creativity must shine here.

It must now be a modern kindergarten teacher's job to incorporate those old fashioned things that seem so passe now. Let them build, color, play, explore, and interact naturally and on their own at least part of the time, if not the majority of the time when doing things you are mandated to do.

If that seems impossible, then set aside time to be real kindergarteners and nothing else. You must make time for this. Get creative during snack time. How can you change this lesson to be more interactive, nurture creativity, exploration, working with others.

If kindergarten teachers fail to do this, they will contribute to the failing of these students later on. And that would be a shame.

Use language that a kindergartener can readily understand. This does not mean dumbing it down. It means your commands and directions should be easily understood by every child in the classroom.

You want to model good behavior, and this includes directions and commands. "Please" is a good word, even for teachers. If you, the teacher, want them to do something, using "I want" can be effective as well. "I want you all to please...."

As a kindergartener you are teaching them a little reading. So, writing some instructions on the board for all to see and say can help. For example, short commands like "clean up," "chairs up," "pencils down," "walk," "eyes up here," are just a few.

Please don't yell. With a room full of noisy kindergarteners, you may feel the need to raise your voice. Don't do it. Instead of yelling, have an attention cue that you use that will always signal that everyone is to be quite and look at you. Holding your finger to your mouth, ringing a bell, are just two examples. Normally counting does not work for children. They will hold out for the last number. What is the last number? A better idea with kindergarteners is to start saying a rhyme or singing a song that all the children know. They will actually eagerly chime in and follow along. End the song, you are ready for the next task. You will actually train them over time, so don't expect it to go perfectly on day one.

Kindergarteners are people too. So, they like to be told or forewarned of what is to come next. So let them know what's coming. Something like, "A few more minutes and clean up is coming." You will need to decide what "time" intervals they comprehend.

Praise them. Always and often. Praise them for good jobs and following directions. Praise them for trying. Kindergarteners do not need to be punished (mostly) in school. They need to be encouraged, nurtured, and loved. They will perform better when they know you like what they are doing.

More Kindergarten Teacher Resources

Common Problems of Kindergarten - Effective ways of dealing with the top problems in a kindergarten classroom.

The Kindergarten Classroom - What makes a good kindergarten teacher?

What to tell parents - Parents of kindergarteners have questions. Do you have the answers?

How to get kindergarteners to listen - Kindergarteners are active and it can be difficult to get them to really pay attention to a teacher.

Making Kindergarteners Future Learners - Kindergarten teachers are the first teachers. After being in your class, will they be ready, willing, and able to learn in future grades?

Nurturing Kindergarten Readers - The basic building blocks of reading are a neccessity for kindergarten. Get them to love reading!

Circle Time Activities - Circle time is a great time to teach, model, interact, socialize, and more!

More Teacher Resources: TEACHERS INDEX.COM

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