Teaching kindergarten is the most rewarding job of all the grades (biased opinion). I’ve taught kindergarten for six years now and am heading into my seventh year at the same school, in the same classroom. I’m so truly blessed to be teaching this grade and love five and six-year old’s. It also is not like teaching any other grade. It’s the hardest. You cannot compare us to first grade or even preschool. We are a different beast. If you have a child going into kindergarten for the first time or are a first-time kindergarten teacher, here are a few things you should know:
- There are no teacher aids. At least not at my school. I’m in charge of 20 or more kindergartners and it is just me. Many of these kids haven’t been to school before or went to preschool. Preschool, although it helps prepare kids for school, is not anything like kindergarten. The ratio is much higher and so is the rigor.
- Kindergarten is the New First Grade. We do play, but we only play if it supports our learning. We do not play just to play, except for recess. We learn to read, write and add and subtract. We read books with several sentences per page, we write with several complete sentences and we should be able to add and subtract fluently (without using fingers or manipulatives) up to 5! That’s right. Kindergartners are rock stars!
- We Don’t have Nap Time. We are too busy to have naps, even if it were still part of the district scheduling/curriculum. Most kids don’t need naps anyway, unless they are not on a regular sleep schedule or have special health needs.
- We are Constantly Moving. Kids and teachers alike are (should be) constantly moving. We don’t teach one minilesson, we teach three or four mini lessons to teach an entire lesson. It takes constant innovation, movement and many transitions to teach one task. We teach EVERYTHING!
- We love what we do! If your teacher doesn’t love what they do, or can’t handle the stress, they won’t stay in kindergarten long. Kindergarten is a special place for special little people. If your teacher gets excited about the new vet clinic they set up and wants to play in there (me), then you probably have a teacher who is excited about teaching your kids. We love to teach little learners in a way that is fun for them, because it makes it fun for us.
- Kindergarten Teachers Spend a Lot of their Own Money. We spend money on snacks when your kids don’t have any or nothing is donated to the class. We know how important it is for your kids to have what they need to keep going throughout the day. So, we often spend our own money on things we need for the classroom that isn’t supplied through the district or school.
The pressure for high quality teachers is rising due to many societal, state and public expectations and sheer necessity. Please keep in mind we (kindergarten teachers) want what is best for kids and we do our best to provide kids exactly what they need to be successful. We know what they can do. The best teachers and parents know that this partnership is essential to success. We love your kids and want to work with you. Ask us how and you should have a teacher with guard down and open heart J.