KISS – First Day Tips for Kindergarten Teachers

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Keep It Simple Strategies (KISS) 

Our keep it simple strategies articles showcase great ideas for classroom management. Sometimes I’ve thought that if it weren’t for the ideas of teachers who went before me, I’d go mad. It’s the little things that make a classroom run smoothly. Things start to fall apart when there is no structure. Kids crave structure; it provides solidity for those who may not have boundaries at home. It is comforting; kids know their limits in a room with structure and specific protocols for conducting business on a day-to-day basis.

KISS #1 is about Kindergarten, the place where it all begins.

I’ve always believed that Kindergarten and First Grade teachers are the most important teachers in a child’s life. A good K teacher is worth her weight in gold, and I’ve worked with many, each one a talented, highly organized mentor for the little ones.

Tips for Kindergarten Management

The #1 Best Tip is Pre-Planning

Before the first day of school, have two or three informal meetings with parents and their children. Divide the meetings into 3 or 4 groups so it’s not so overwhelming for both child and parent (and you). Here, you will introduce yourself and show everyone the lay of the land. It’s a good time to introduce the children to their cubbies. An activity for this day might be to draw a picture of the child’s pet or teddy to attach to the outside of the cubbie with the child’s name on it. It establishes territory, cuts out a small part of the big world that belongs to each child. And, always have stickers at the ready.

A proper pre-planning meeting should prevent most of the tears in the early day of school. Distraction is helpful too, if a child starts to cry, have an activity ready to focus his attention on something other than his fears of separation from Mom. Your partner on the first day of school is the parent. Send a planning kit to Mom a week or so before school starts, or set up a website that allows parents and kids a chance to take a virtual tour of the school so they know what to expect.

  • Have a plan and stick to the plan.
  • Be consistent; have a plan B, C, D at the ready every day.
  • Use the cubbie ritual as a grounding tool; Let the children bring one comfort item from home to keep in his cubbie. Work with parents on this one; let them know on your website and with your planning kit. A small stuffed toy works well for this. One Mom I know let her little one bring his “Minion“, a plastic replica of the Minions in “Despicable Me”. It became the talk of the classroom, elevating this child to hero status on the first day of school.
  • On your website, let parents know what your cues are. If you raise your hand to announce you want children to be quiet and pay attention, suggest to the parent that they start practicing this at home.
  • Keep an attendance chart, have the children’s names on tag board cards that have velcro on the back to stick to the chart on the side that announces “I’m here.”
  • Let parents know in advance the holidays you will celebrate and how they will be celebrated. Parents appreciate knowing this in advance. Have you ever been asked to provide 29 cupcakes the night before Halloween?

A million teachers have come before; here are some of the websites they’ve made to show how they did it:

Pinterest Boards to Follow

Best of these? Don’t assume the kids know how to do things. Teach them everything from the beginning, how to knock on a bathroom door, how to wash hands and throw away the towel, etc.

A quick scan through the sites I’ve selected will have you feeling confident and ready to greet the little people at the door of your classroom. Welcome back to school! I’m excited about this blog series; let me know your management tips too in the comments below!

Neva FennoNeva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.

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2 thoughts on “KISS – First Day Tips for Kindergarten Teachers

  1. I love this article because my best friend is a kindergarten teacher! I feel like she would really love some of these ideas for her classroom. The attendance chart with names is such a cute idea! That would make them feel so welcome to see their name, especially in the beginning weeks.

    • Thanks Veronica! It’s great to hear this blog will be helpful for teachers and students as well. Feel free to share with us if your friend has any other tips that work well in the classroom!

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