Let's talk about the sometimes daunting task of teaching procedures in kindergarten for back to school. The best gift you can give yourself during back to school is taking time to teach procedures, build classroom community and lay the foundation for a structured environment where kids feel safe and loved.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with your focus documents or YAG, but trust me when I say that academics will come so much easier if your classroom behavior is in check and your class becomes a well-oiled machine.
Our job is to foster independence, but our young learners still need everything modeled to them multiple times before they are capable of doing things on their own. Before students enter the room on the first day, consider them a brand-new school baby and they are coming with no skills. Some may have had preschool or went to daycare, but that environment is different from your classroom. They are walking through the door like a fresh sponge, ready to soak up everything you have to teach them.
Also, understand that they may need a lot of social support. Parents don’t often realize that they need to teach their children the names of feelings and ways to calm themselves. Every child has a different background so it’s easier just to start at ground zero for everyone.
When teaching procedures in kindergarten, saying what to do is not enough. For example, if I tell my students to line up, that has no meaning to them. If I say, “Boys and girls, we are going to practice lining up. This is what lining up looks like. When I (the teacher) ring this bell, you calmly walk over to our classroom door to get in line.” As I am giving each directive, I am modeling what it looks like.
For example, “Boys and girls, when you stand in line, your face needs to be looking at the person’s head in front of you. Your feet need to be together, and your hands need to be by your side. This is what that looks like. Now let’s practice.” This will not be the last time I will say those words to this class either. I might say it 100 more times that week and another 100 over the course of the school year. Reminders went like this. “Remember, this is what lining up correctly looks like. I am looking forward. My mouth is closed and ears are listening for directions. My hands are by my side and my feet are together. I am ready to go.”
When I first started teaching, I would make scripted lesson plans. One day would equal ten pages. It only took one day for me to realize that I was overly ambitious, and I needed to go back to the drawing board for my plans. I basically wrote down all the procedures that I needed to teach and plugged them in to this rotation:
- Brain Break
- Practice Procedure
That was a much more realistic plan. Also, remember that kids are excited to come to school to PLAY. Give them opportunities every day to do so. Start small. The first day, I would teach them how to use playdough and certain manipulatives. They would have an opportunity to play with these things at their table. Each day, I would add something new (how to read a book in the library, how to play in home living, how to play in the block center, how to use technology, etc.). Those are outside of my non-negotiable procedures outlined in the free packet below. I also was so used to using dozens of books to teach procedures that I decided to write one book that had everything I needed in it.
Most importantly, follow your students. You can tell when they are done. You can push them past their limit to get it all in, but the outcome usually isn’t in the teacher’s favor. Remember that they have build stamina in everything they do. This includes sitting, working, listening to a book, etc. Everything takes practice. Everything.
So, follow their lead and give them and yourself alllll the grace. It takes time to really get into a groove where things flow smoothly. If you take the time to really teach procedures and model with consistent expectations, teaching academics will go so much smoother, and they will learn so much more. When a class is out of control, no one learns so focusing on rules and procedures is the most important thing you can do right now.
Remember that every day is a new opportunity. Some kids will need to see it and practice it ten times before it clicks. Don’t give up on them. They can do this and so can you. It’s like building a house. Without a strong foundation, everything else crumbles. It’s one brick at a time. Just wait, you will help them become a masterpiece before long!
Sign up below to get this free guide to teaching procedures in kindergarten.