Kids in kindergarten are curious about their surroundings, eager to learn and develop pre-math and pre-literacy skills. They also grow socially, emotionally and physically.
Kindergartners may be prone to distraction, so teachers need to carefully plan lessons/activities that last no more than 15 minutes and include movement activity (clapping a pattern, or Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes). Then kids can focus on learning.
Kindergarten introduces kids to the world of education outside of a home or preschool environment, where children interact with a teacher and a group of peers in a structured classroom setting. Kindergarteners are expected to learn the basics of reading (phonics, sight words, and story structure), early math (numbers and simple addition and subtraction) and basic science concepts.
Kids will also be expected to have mastered fine motor skills, such as cutting, gluing and holding a pencil and crayon. Kids should be able to independently open lunch containers, zip up their jackets and put on their shoes without assistance. They should be toilet-trained and able to manage their own bathroom needs during school. They should recognize their first and last name and write it in print. They should be able to identify and pronounce the eight basic colors.
Kindergarteners should be able to understand and follow two-step directions and can sit quietly for stories read aloud. They should be able to retell the main events of a story and understand the order in which they happened.
In kindergarten, children learn how to interact with others in a classroom setting. They need to share, take turns, participate in group activities and show good sportsmanship. Kindergarten students also learn how to express their emotions, as well as understand the feelings of those around them.
Social skills are important because they allow children to build relationships, adjust to school and become independent learners. It is normal for young children to struggle with sharing, empathizing and cooperating, because they are naturally egocentric. However, with practice, these skills can be acquired.
It is also important for kindergarten students to know how to listen and follow directions. This is a skill that they will continue to use throughout their education. When a child follows instructions, you can help reinforce this by praising them for their behavior and saying phrases like, “Thank you for putting away your toys as I asked.” This will help them feel encouraged to keep listening and following the rules.
Self-control is an important part of kids’ social and emotional skills. It helps kids resist distractions, inhibit impulses, bounce back from difficult emotions and delay gratification. It also helps them make good choices when adults are not around to guide them.
Developing self-regulation takes time, but kids who learn it are better prepared for the challenges of school, work and life in general. One study that followed kids over several years found that the level of self-control they showed as preschoolers was a strong predictor of their academic success in kindergarten and beyond.
Helping kids develop self-regulation involves teaching them to calm down when they are angry or frustrated, listen to others, and stay focused on tasks at hand. It also means providing fun, engaging activities that promote thinking before acting and fostering patience. An example is this block tower game that asks kids to pull out blocks from the bottom layers and align them on the top layer without the tower falling.
Attention is a very important skill to have in kindergarten. Children who have difficulty paying attention will struggle to follow instructions within the classroom. If they cannot concentrate for an extended period of time, they will not reach their academic potential.
Like a muscle, attention can be strengthened by “exercising it,” such as practicing focusing on tasks. Try playing games that require concentration, such as Memory or Red Light/Green Light. In the latter game, a leader turns their back on the other children and says “green light.” The children who keep moving toward the leader can only stop when the leader says “red light.”
Children’s attention is enhanced when they are interested in a subject. Therefore, teachers can increase their students’ attention by incorporating subjects that are relevant to them and teaching in their preferred learning style. Visual learners tend to learn better by seeing, auditory learners prefer to hear and kinesthetic learners need to touch and experience.