The 3 Most Important Tricks When Teaching English to Kindergarteners
2018-11-25 Linda Dunsmore Alumni Experiences Teaching Ideas
Walking into a kindergarten classroom in any language may have most teachers running right back out the door. A kindergarten classroom can be like a circus. The teacher is the ringmaster. The students range from man-eating lions to trapeze artists to clowns. It’s important to remember that kindergarten students do not understand they are meant to be learning great truths and skills that will set them up for the rest of their life. They want to play, love, be loved, and enjoy every aspect of life to the fullest, even when they are sitting in the classroom. Even the physical excitement that kindergarteners have can be used to create an even deeper understanding of language and should never be seen as bad. Children love to explore and learn. Teachers need to understand that and guide it, not stomp it out. An effective teacher can utilize this zest for life through many areas, including music, games, and consistency in the classroom.
This post was written by our ITTT graduate Sarah S.
Use a Lot of Music
Music has many uses in a kindergarten classroom. It can be used to start the day. Having the routine of a “good morning” song, which can periodically change throughout the year, can be an effective way to work out morning wiggles, wake up sleepy students, practice morning greetings, and start everyone off on the same page. It can also be used to memorize vocabulary. Music has a way of helping human minds remember new things. In a kindergarten classroom, a teacher can use songs to learn days of the week, months of the year, numbers, the alphabet, letter sounds, new phrases, and other vocabulary ideas. It can be used even more effectively with motions. Songs that have motions added to help kindergarteners move their bodies will increase memory, especially if the motions are related to the words. For example, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” is a song that is easy to memorize and sing, is silly, and has the singers touching the body parts in the song. For most students, they do not even realize they are learning something. They are having fun singing and dancing.
Everything is Fun and Games
Another way that kindergarten students can learn and have fun in the classroom is through the use of games. Sometimes, games can be utilized to help students focus. Distracted students can be easily redirected through a quick game of “Simon Says” ending with the students “sitting down with their hands in their laps.” Games can also help teach vocabulary. Many games can be made or adapted to help kindergarteners practice their English, whether it be vocabulary words, phrases, phonics, or counting. An example of this type of game would be splitting the class into teams and having them sort the items into the right baskets by letter sounds. Games can also just be fun. Students can still be practicing their English without a specific goal in mind. It can be at the end of a class when they have been listening well all day or at the end of a week after a good spelling test. Games are a great way to guide students’ energy into a productive outlet.
Consistency is Key
The last aspect of a kindergarten class that is vitally important is consistency. Consistency is important in regards to the language one uses as the teacher. If the teacher uses the same words, such as “clean up time,” every day, the kindergarten students will catch on over time. If the teacher uses “clean up time” one day and “it’s time to clear away the garbage” the next day, the students will become confused. It’s important, especially at first, to use the same vocabulary day after day until it has become consistent. The students know what is expected of them, which causes them less anxiety. It is also important to be consistent in discipline. If the teacher chooses to let one student “get away” with breaking a rule but harshly disciplines another student, this will cause a lot of anxiety in the classroom. If the teacher decides to be lax in the rules one day but the next starts disciplining every student for every infraction, it again will cause anxiety in the students. This will likely lead to chaos in the classroom. Consistency in language and in discipline is necessary in the kindergarten classroom.
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The kindergarten classroom can be one of the most rewarding places to work. The ringmaster can have as much fun as the young learners if he or she chooses to engage and guide kindergartners’ zest for life. The teacher can use music, games, and consistency to effectively teach kindergarteners.
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