It doesn’t matter how excited you are to start your teaching career, getting started can be intimidating. You do not have to go it alone though! You have colleagues and the director of your preschool to turn to for advice and guidance. There are many resources out there to help make preschool teacher’s lives easier, too. Here is a list of 18 tips to help the new preschool teacher get off on the right foot.
1. STAY ORGANIZED
When you keep your preschool classroom organized, it makes everything run much more smoothly. It’s not just the materials in each learning center that needs to stay organized though. It is important to have a clear system in place for how to organize your planning and documentation processes.
2. PROMOTE EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION AND SELF REGULATION
Encourage your preschoolers to express themselves in a healthy and productive manner. This does not come naturally, it must be taught. You can promote emotional expression and self regulation by modeling it yourself.
3. LIMIT TRANSITIONS
Everyone knows that many preschoolers struggle with transitions. Having too many transitions only makes matters worse. Limit the number of transitions your preschoolers have to go through each day to avoid unnecessary power struggles.
4. FOLLOW YOUR PRESCHOOLERS’ LEAD
Sometimes, your lessons are going to flop, and that is okay. If your preschoolers seem distracted or uninterested, quickly switch gears to something else. Use their interests to guide you.
5. MAINTAIN A CONSISTENT ROUTINE
Consistency is king in preschool. Without it, your classroom is bound to be full of chaos and power struggles. Keep your routine consistent as much as possible. Occasional small changes are okay, but for the most part each day’s rhythm should flow the same.
6. DO NOT REQUIRE CIRCLE TIME PARTICIPATION
If you are doing your circle times right, you will not need to require your preschoolers to come to and participate in circle time. Sometimes though, you will still get a child who is having an off day or just doesn’t do well in large groups. As long as they are not being disruptive in any way, let them be. They are probably taking in more then you think.
7. HAVE FUN!
Enjoy your time with your preschoolers! Let yourself become deeply engaged in play with them. Not only with this make the days more fun, but your preschoolers will also benefit tremendously from it.
8. GET TO KNOW YOUR PRESCHOOLERS
It is a lot easier to support your preschoolers and guide them through their learning experiences when you know them well. Get to know your preschoolers by engaging in play with them and asking open-ended questions. Knowing what motivates and interests your preschoolers will help you plan intentionally to support their developmental growth.
9. OBSERVE REGULARLY
In order to assess your preschoolers development within each learning domain, you must do observations. Create a system to make this a regular part of your routine. It’s as easy as putting a clipboard with sticker labels and a pen in each learning center. Jot down observations as you see them and add the date. This will make it easy to add observations to your preschoolers’ portfolios later.
10. BE PATIENT
For your sake and theirs, you need to have a great deal of patients with your preschoolers. Do not rush them through activities or transitions, this often makes things take longer and can lead to power struggles.
11. OFFER OPEN-ENDED ACTIVITIES
When planning out your curriculum, the main goal is to create activities and lessons that will keep your preschoolers engaged as they learn through play. Offering open-ended activities is a sure-fire way to accomplish that goal. When your preschoolers have the freedom to direct their own play, their learning is expanded by making their own decisions, planning, and problem solving.
12. KEEP CLASSROOM RULES SIMPLE
Limit your classroom rules to two or three clear and simple rules. Make your rules all encompassing so that they are simple and easy to remember. Collaborate with your preschoolers to create a list of things that they should do in the classroom and a list of things they should not do in the classroom. Discuss how all of the things that they came up with tells us that we should 1. Take care of each other and 2. Take care of our things. Now you have to clear and simple rules that are easy for your preschoolers to remember.
13. ADOPT AND TEACH A GROWTH MINDSET
A growth mindset is believing that you can develop your abilities through hard work. When we foster a growth mindset in young children from the start, they will not have so much work to do when they are adults to re-train themselves to have a growth mindset. Having a growth mindset has a huge impact on children’s learning, as they are less likely to give up when facing challenges.
14. ENCOURAGE FAMILY INVOLVEMENT
Encouraging parent involvement in your classroom is a great way to get to know your preschool families. Having parent volunteers can also help relieve you of some of your responsibilities.
15. MAKE YOUR LESSONS DO DOUBLE DUTY
Every lesson that you plan should cover multiple learning domains and developmental goals for multiple children. Luckily, this happens fairly naturally with most preschool activities.
16. REMEMBER SELF CARE
You must take care of yourself. It’s like they say, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else. Make time to do things that help you relax.
17. CREATE A SUBSTITUTE FOLDER
Create a substitute folder that includes easy to set up activities that can be done at any time. This way, your substitute will feel confident in what they are doing and your preschoolers will continue to learn through engaging play based activities while you are gone.
18. EXPECT MORE
Your preschoolers are capable of a lot. Often times, more than adults give them credit for. Expect more, within what is developmentally appropriate, and they will show you just what they can do.