Top Tips for Setting Up an EFL Kindergarten Schedule
The average four-year-old has an attention span of eight to 12 minutes. Kindergarteners typically range from four to six years in age so at best, an instructor has approximately 20 minutes in which to work when teaching kindergarten children. Teaching aids are critically important to maintaining the attention of this age group! When teaching four-year-olds their second, third, or fourth language, good teaching aids will keep the child's attention while also simultaneously teaching them critical content. This paper will explore how to create a schedule in an EFL kindergarten classroom. For simplicity sake and congruence of understanding, I will write from the perspective that the kindergarten classroom is a total immersion learning environment whereby the second language (L2) is the primary method of content delivery and the native language (L1) is taught as a subject block three times per week.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Wendy W. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
When teaching kindergarten students, routines are critically important. Routines help the children feel safe and make the children aware of what is expected from them. When the same activities are done at the same time every day, children will learn to anticipate how to behave and can become confident in inappropriate behaviors. For this paper, I will outline my recommendation for kindergarten activities in one full day of teaching, approximately 8 am-3:30 pm.
BEGINNING THE DAY
Since students arrive at school at different times in the morning, I recommend having free play until the formal day’s activities begin. Free play in the same room location allows children to begin the day with creativity, choice, play. During this time, the child can socialize with siblings and friends who are in other classrooms/grades and the playtime sets the tone for excited and energetic learning throughout the rest of the day.
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FLAG CEREMONY AND PLEDGES
Regardless of where in the world an EFL teacher is teaching, I believe that a daily flag ceremony and stating of the pledges help connect the children to their country. Assembling the children for daily singing of the national anthem helps to build pride in their country and prepares them for participation in adult activities where the national anthem is sung. Stating national pledges helps the children learn they are a part of something bigger than themselves and helps to build a sense of connection to something beyond themselves.
SCHOOL-WIDE MORNING ACTIVITY
After the flag ceremony and daily pledges, I recommend getting the children moving! A school-wide morning movement song will provide an opportunity for the children to get some of their wiggles out. Morning exercises help to pump up the children for a day of learning and gives them another opportunity to socialize with friends or siblings in other grades before heading off to their classrooms.
Rug time, carpet time, classroom meeting, or morning circle. This teacher-led classroom meeting time is known by many names. It’s a daily relationship-building time that encourages unity, respect, and turn-taking. It helps children work on key communication skills including listening, thinking, looking, speaking, and concentrating. Circle Time brings the entire class together and helps communicate the agenda for the day. By providing children a visual overview of the daily schedule, a kindergarten teacher empowers her students to follow and track where they are in the schedule throughout the day. If Math is taught just before lunch, a child knows that s/he will soon be seeing other friends once the math work is completed. If Reading and storytime are taught immediately before dismissal, a child knows that s/he will soon be seeing their mom or dad once the story is finished. Visual cues help provide a sense of mastery for the child as they learn how to interact with the world around them. Circle time provides an opportunity for them to practice kindness, respect, and appropriate social interactions that build strong societies.
Depending on the requirements of school districts, provinces, or countries, there may be a mandated number of subject content blocks that an instructor is required to teach. After the morning circle, I recommend teaching content-heavy subjects like English or Maths at the beginning of the day when children are fresh and well-rested. I would save active subjects like Art, Music, and Physical Education for later in the day when the children may need more physical movement.
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Whether school-provided or family-provided, lunchtime should give the child enough time to both eat their food and provide an opportunity for physical activity. Responsibilities of clearing their table spot, wiping spilled food, and disposing of trash should be expected of each child. These life skills help prepare them for a successful life and give them tools to command and clean their belongings. Preferably, the children should get outdoors into the sunshine at least once a day, and after lunch, playtime is a great time for this to happen.
PRE-DISMISSAL CIRCLE TIME
I recommend bringing the children back together at the end of the day to talk about their experiences. Asking each child “What was your favorite activity today?” provides them an opportunity to practice their English and gives them a chance to talk about their day. Similar to morning circle time, the afternoon circle builds community by encouraging unity, respect, and turn-taking. Children listen to their classmates to discuss the highlights of their day.
END OF DAY FREE PLAY
Because a student’s a pick up at various times in the afternoon, I recommend another school-wide free play time where children are allowed to socialize with their siblings and friends that are in other classrooms and grade levels. Beginning and ending each day with free play time creates positive associations with school, encouraging the child to come back tomorrow and do it all over again.
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I’ll repeat myself by stating that routines are extremely important for kindergarten children! Though the content may differ depending on the block subject schedule, providing kindergarten children with a predictable schedule creates a sense of safety for them. Above I have recommended a daily schedule one can implement in any classroom around the world.
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