Typical Challenges Faced by Teachers in a Kindergarten Class
Teaching English in kindergarten is more than just teaching a child how to pronounce words. If you want to be a dedicated teacher, and you want to successfully teach the children, it is essential to teach them how to follow rules and instructions. The following paragraphs will try to equip you with the most important ingredients required to be a successful kindergarten teacher. With having more than 2 ½ years of experience teaching English at a kindergarten, I am certain that the most important thing a teacher has to do is to build a strong rapport with the children.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Robin S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Behavior Management and Classroom Rules
Children need routines and rules that give them a structure and a framework to thrive in. Routines make the children feel comfortable in the classroom because they know what to expect. A routine schedule will help the teacher to plan and serves as the blueprint for a consistent environment. Should changes occur to the routines or the schedule, inform the children and let them know why things had to change? Classroom Rules set expectations for the children and will help them progress through the day, week and year. Explain the rules to the children in plain English. Have a classroom management plan written before the start of the year that clearly states how to deal with misbehaving children. When disciplining unwanted behavior, ensure to be consistent with every child and never shout at the children. Give them brief and simple explanations, and if necessary, a time out. A time out should in most cases be your last resort. Once the children feel comfortable they will grow in confidence which in return allows them to express themselves, experiment with the English language and enables them to learn faster.
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Teaching Phonics to Children
When teaching English in a larger kindergarten class, a classroom set up, called “circle time,” is the most suitable. The children sit in a semicircle facing the teacher. This allows the teacher to address everyone equally and directly. It is important to note, that unlike adults, children have a very short attention span. If the teacher does not teach in a fun and engaging manner the children quickly get bored and divert their attention to something or someone else. Incorporating body movements and actions will help the teacher to interact with the children in a more fun and active manner. Let us compare two scenarios to highlight the importance of combining actions with teaching English. In the first scenario, the teacher introduces the letter “T” to the class and the sound that it says. The teacher asks the children to repeat the sound of “T” a few times.
In the second scenario, the teacher introduces the same letter but this time combines it with actions. The letter “T” is formed with the teacher’s arms and the children copy the teacher and say the letter. When the sound of “T” is introduced to the children, the teacher first asks them to imagine that they are watching a tennis ball being hit from left to right while saying the sound t, t, t. The children move their head from left to right repeatedly while saying t,t,t. Combining speaking with movements makes it easier for children to remember. On top of that, they are more likely to pay attention because they are more engaged.
Building Relationships or Rapport with the Children
This is by far the most important challenge a teacher has to tackle. Once the teacher has built a strong relationship with the children or the class, the above-mentioned deductions are far easier to achieve than without it. The teacher might not be able to manage the class if he or she has not established a strong connection with the children. When I first started as an English kindergarten teacher, I began second-guessing my capabilities as an effective instructor. Why wouldn’t they listen to me? In time, the answer became quite clear. The children were testing me. After successfully overcoming this initial obstacle, I was able to build a proper rapport with the children. Once the children have grown to like the teacher, trust the teacher, and respect the teacher, effective instruction can now be achieved.
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When considering all of the above it becomes very clear that teaching at a kindergarten can be very challenging. The teacher has to be more than just a teacher. A good teacher will be a role model that the children will respect and look up to. This can be accomplished by managing the class effectively, by teaching in a fun and engaging manner, and most importantly, by having established a strong rapport with the children.
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