These best tips for preschool teachers will help teachers manage their preschool classrooms and help guide them to best practices in supporting their preschoolers.
1. GET ON THEIR LEVEL
When you are interacting with preschoolers it is important that you get down on their level. They will hear and understand you better this way. Also, they learn a lot from watching your face when you talk to them. They learn social cues by watching your face and your body language. Face to face interactions are also important for preschoolers to build secure relationships and language skills.
2. BE PREPARED
The best thing that you can do to set yourself up for success as a preschool teacher is to be prepared. Be prepared for your preschoolers to have other ideas of how the day will go. Sometimes your activity plans will not turn out the way you imagined or your preschoolers may not be interested. If your preschoolers do not have interest in what you are doing they will not be engaged and you will start to see some unwelcomed behaviors.
Be prepared to be flexible and change plans at the last moment. Be prepared for the unexpected. Plan your preschool days with intentionality and have everything ready. At the same time though, realize that just because you have a plan does not mean you have to stick to it.
3. GIVE JOBS
It’s not uncommon for preschool teachers to feel like they are constantly running from one task to the next. As a teacher, you already know what you have to do next before you have even finished with the current task at hand. Giving your preschoolers jobs can help a great deal with this. Let each child in your classroom be responsible for a certain task or have a few helpers each day.
Either way, it will make your day a bit easier once they are in the routine of helping. It also brings a sense of community to the classroom. Some great jobs for preschoolers are setting the table, line leader, clean-up monitor, door holder, etc. Also, don’t be afraid to get your preschoolers involved in making snacks and cleaning up, too. Giving your preschoolers jobs gives them a sense of responsibility and a boost in confidence.
4. GET MOVING
Sometimes your preschoolers will need to reset. You might notice that they seem to be getting on each others’ nerves more. They might be resisting transitions. You might even notice that they are a bit restless. These are all great times to take a movement break. Turn up the music and have a dance party, have a balance challenge, or do some yoga.
However you choose to do it, get your preschoolers up and moving! Anytime you feel like your preschoolers seem a bit out of sorts, or are just having a bad day of it, either bring them outside or put them “in” water! This really helps them to regulate their emotions and kind of resets their mood.
5. SET BOUNDARIES
A key part of classroom management is having simple clear rules that preschoolers understand. Your preschoolers gain a sense of ownership of the rules and the classroom overall when you have them help create the rules with you. During your very first circle time of the year, make a chart with things that we should do in preschool in one column and then things we should do not do in preschool in the other column. Then discuss everything that they came up with.
Point out how everything on the chart basically tells us that we should take care of each other and take care of our things. After that, as a class you can make a big sign with these two simple rules that the children not only can understand, but that they helped make.
6. BE CONSISTENT
Preschoolers thrive with consistency. Although it may seem inconsequential to you to switch up the order of events in a day, it can cause a bit of anxiety and overwhelm for your preschoolers if it is done too often. A consistent routine gives your preschoolers a sense of familiarity that helps them to know what to expect.
Having a consistent routine relieves a lot of stress for preschoolers. This also helps limit the power struggles that sometimes come up during transition times.
7. TRANSITION SONGS AND SIGNALS
Transitions are probably one of the hardest parts of the day for preschoolers. It is important to make it clear when a transition is coming. Have a consistent signal for each transition time during your preschool day. Also, try to limit the number of transitions that your preschoolers have to go through each day.
At the end of your opening circle time, have just a couple of your preschoolers transition to the next activity at a time. You can do this by singing a song such as, “If your clothes have any red, any red. If your clothes have any red, any red. If your clothes have any red, then put your finger on your head, on your head.” The all of the children with red in their clothes move on to the next activity. You continue to do this with more colors until all of the children have transitioned.
This transition works well because only a few children are transitioning at a time, so that limits chaos. Also, it is very interactive. All of the children get to sing along, clap, and look for who has the right color.
Singing is like magic for preschoolers. You don’t have to have a particularly good singing voice either. If you randomly start singing in your preschool classroom you will soon have a flock of preschoolers by your side. Some of them will start singing along and others will just take it all in. Either way, you have their attention.
You can use singing in so many ways in your preschool classroom. Sometimes you will have a preschooler who does not want to participate in cleaning up. You can sing what you see, “I see Johnny cleaning up the blocks, I see Annie cleaning up the books,” and that will trigger them to clean up too so that you will add them to your song!
9. PLAY WITH THEM
Nothing will keep your preschoolers more engaged than when you play with them. You open a whole new world of play for your preschoolers when you are actively engaged in play with them. After all, you have a lot more world experience and therefore can add a lot of variety into the play experiences. When you engage in play with your preschoolers you are also helping them develop the skills that they need in order to self-regulate their emotions.
During your play with your preschoolers you can also model behaviors that you want. For example, if you are playing doctor with your preschoolers you can model good hygiene by pretending to sneeze. Sneeze into your elbow and then pretend to blow your nose and go “wash” your hands in the play sink. You can even create pretend conflicts during play and model peaceful ways to resolve the problem.
10. PRACTICE FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Helping your preschoolers build their fine motor skills also helps them build independence. There are so many fun ways to practice fine motor skills. Your preschoolers can practice using scissors with playdough and building the muscles in their hands they will need for writing. Stringing beads, hole punchers, and sensory play are also all wonderful ways for preschoolers to practice their fine motor skills through play.
The best tip for preschool teachers is to make it fun! If you are engaging with your preschoolers and making meaningful connections with them you are well on your way to having a smooth running preschool classroom.