What is important in a Kindergarten classroom?
Written by CLC’s Kindergarten tutor, Rebecca Santin
A classroom should be a safe, warm, nurturing environment.
If children are not in a physically and emotionally safe environment, they are not able to learn. They are expending too much energy trying to calm their nervous system to take in any sort of academic learning. I have tried to create a classroom environment that is warm, welcoming and calm. I try to be very clear with my expectations so that kids are not taken by surprise and may take comfort in knowing what is expected of them.
Children should feel loved, accepted and liked.
For some children, this will be their first experience in a classroom environment and thus will equate these experiences as ‘school’. If a child does not feel loved, accepted or liked, ‘school’ can quickly have negative connotations.
A tutor’s role is to foster a child’s natural curiosity to learn.
By nature, children are eager, curious learners. They have an insatiable fire inside of them for knowledge. It is my job to help stoke that fire and show them how exciting and satisfying learning can be. I would consider it a great sadness, and true failure, if a student left my class and said that ‘school was boring,’ thus dampening that child’s fire. As tutors, we are given the immense responsibility to nurture and grow their curiosity.
Learning should be fun, creative, playful and hands-on.
Kindergarteners are little kids! They still love to sing, move their bodies and be silly. It is important to nurture these things and allow children the freedom to do this. While I definitely believe it is important to sit and have deskwork, I think children at this age learn best through song, movement, hands-on learning, and play.
Kindergarten is about the basics.
This is the time for children to learn “the academic basics.” Shapes, seasons, days of the week, letter sounds, basic addition, etc. It is also the time for kids to learn the basics of “classroom behaviors.” By this I mean, writing one’s name on a worksheet, pushing in a chair after it’s used, standing in line, sitting at group time, raising one’s hand, sharing, and listening to others.
We are laying the foundation for kids to begin reading, learning math skills, engaging in more sophisticated social relationships, and exercising both physical and verbal self-control.
Guided, dramatic play is an important learning tool.
At this age, children learn so much through play – specifically, imaginary play. Guiding children through that experience, by creating a ‘play plan’, helps them define their role and responsibilities in the game. Guided, dramatic play allows children to use real-life experiences (a restaurant, an office, a store) and make sense of them in their world. Children learn the valuable skills of communication, negotiation, sharing, and creativity.