Kindergarten is a pivotal year in a child’s academic development. Quite often, it’s the first formal year of instruction, which means the child will be introduced to several new skills throughout the year. Although good teachers are crucial for every grade level, it is especially important that kindergarten teachers are effective. After all, they will set the tone for a student’s opinion about school in general and learning in particular. There are certain traits that are common among effective kindergarten teachers.
More than anything else, early childhood teachers must have a passion for what they do. Being a kindergarten teacher is not always easy, and in fact can be quite challenging at times. Teachers who love what they do and feel like they are making a difference will feel a sense of accomplishment that will sustain and motivate them during challenging times.
“Liking kids” is not enough to make someone a good kindergarten teacher. Although kids are cute and fun, they can also be defiant and difficult at times, and during those times teachers must have an intrinsic motivation to overcome the obstacles in front of them. If teaching doesn’t ignite the passion inside of a person they should find a more suitable career.
Patience is a must when teaching kindergarten. Small children are unpredictable. They may test their teacher’s patience regularly by being easily distracted or disruptive. There are days when some students are overly tired, hungry, not feeling well or just not in the mood to learn. Kindergarten teachers must be able to adjust lesson plans accordingly and not get stressed out over unforeseen issues. Not all children learn at the same pace, which can lead to frustration when trying to get through a lesson. Children in kindergarten are also just learning how to act appropriately on a social level when dealing with many other children, so there will be behavior issues that must be dealt with at what might be an inappropriate time.
Students aren’t the only reason patience is needed when working as a teacher. Parents can be challenging to deal with as well, and for every student in the classroom, there is at least one parent. Kindergarten teachers are often the first experience parents have had with someone in the education system, so it requires a great deal of patience to explain the way things work and ease their minds when they are upset or frustrated. Sometimes, dealing with the school system as a whole can be strenuous. There are administrators, counselors, behavior specialists, librarians, etc. all with their own understanding of the way things should go. It’s important to know how to effectively communicate with all of the people in the building so that it best benefits the students.
Most teachers have great ideas when it comes to classroom instruction, but often times the resources are not there to provide teachers with everything they desire. When resources are limited, teachers must be creative, and this is especially true for kindergarten teachers.
Children who are coming to school for the first time should feel comfortable and happy. The environment should be warm and welcoming, but it should also provide enough stimulation to keep children engaged. The same goes for planning lessons; the more creativity involved the more engaged the students will be, which eliminates behavior problems.
As mentioned earlier, children are unpredictable. The ability to monitor a situation and adjust the lessons for the day is crucial. Whether it’s raining outside, causing an outdoor lesson to be cancelled, or the copy machine is down when you get to school, teachers have to be willing to deal with change and unexpected turns.
Kindergarten teachers, especially, have to be flexible. Some days, the classroom will be full of eager faces ready to learn, but other days it might seem more like a zoo! Small children tend to feed off one another, so if a few kids are having a bad day, it would not be unusual for the entire class to seem “off” that day, which might require a change in classroom instruction.
Respect for students and their families is an important trait for any teacher to have, but it is heightened at the kindergarten level because it’s the first interaction that many parents and children will have with a teacher. Treating each student and family as an important member of the learning community will open great communication and lead to a mutual respect.
Part of respecting students and families is having an understanding and appreciation of diversity. Children come from all different cultures and backgrounds, and that is important for teachers to remember when planning lessons, addressing the class or just teaching in general. Making generalized statements that may seem narrow minded can hurt people and leads to conflict with parents. Students will flourish in an environment that reflects respect for one another, and they will learn to treat each other that way as well.
This trait may have more to do with a teacher’s disposition, but it is definitely beneficial to kindergarten teachers to match their students’ energy and enthusiasm for learning. Young children come to school excited to learn about new things, and when the teacher displays excitement for the lessons as well, the students respond favorably.
Most kindergarten teachers are exhausted at the end of the teaching day. They are up and moving with the kids, they are animated and fun and they are showing their students that school is a wonderful place to be. Children love to use songs and chants to learn certain concepts. They are kinesthetic learners, so moving around and getting out of their seats will help them retain information as well.
Kindergarten teachers are the first people to introduce students to the world of education. They open doors that some children didn’t even know existed! If teachers incorporate these traits into their teaching, they can develop students who are lifelong learners. Kindergarten teachers for years have discovered methods to make their classrooms effective yet fun, and it’s important to follow the same path, in order to ensure the success of students for years to come.