Characteristics of Great Kindergarten Classrooms
- Grades: PreK–K
Though some think of kindergarten as a year of play, in actuality kindergartners work hard and learn a lot in a very short time.Teachers can no longer expect healthy 5– or 6-year-old children, with all their energy and enthusiasm, to sit at their desks or to be quiet all day. Kindergarten gives children the opportunity to grow and develop through play — the way children learn best. It is a time for children to expand their love of learning, build knowledge, develop their ability to get along with others, and explore ways of reaching out to the world. What should you see, hear, and feel upon entering a room where all these good things are happening? Read on for the characteristics of great kindergarten classrooms.
When you enter the doors of a great kindergarten classroom, you should immediately see children playing and working with materials such as magnifying glasses, puzzles, magnets, and more. It may look as if students are just having fun, but they are actually learning valuable lessons. How does this look specifically?
- Various centers should be set up around the classroom for students to explore.
- The classroom should be enriched by an abundance of books, words, letters, numbers, and other instructional aids.
- At times you would see the teacher meeting with small groups of students, addressing their individual needs.
- Differentiated instruction should be evident. All students do not learn in the same way. Activities should be designed to meet the needs of all students in the classroom.
- Student work should be neatly displayed throughout the room. My students love seeing their work posted. It makes the classroom feel more like their own.
What should you hear in a great kindergarten classroom?
I'm often baffled when I talk to those who think a kindergarten class, or any class for that matter, should be quiet. For one thing, students at this age love to talk. Kindergartners' vocabulary is growing very rapidly, and many are developing the power to express ideas. When we provide students with opportunities to talk about what they are learning, we are helping them to construct meaning and learn from their experiences. Children should be working together, problem-solving and sharing ideas and activities. This helps children learn how to think through problems and find solutions together.
In addition, the teacher should be reading to students throughout the day. One of the most important things teachers can do in preparing children for success in school and in reading is to read aloud to them. Read-alouds help build listening skills, comprehension skills, and so much more. At times the children should also be reading, to themselves, other students, or the teacher.
Music will also be part of the successful kindergarten classroom. The children should be singing and chanting songs, poems, and more. I feel so strongly about singing because it works! If you use a song to teach a concept, kids tend to remember it. My students love listening to and singing along with Dr. Jean, Hap Palmer, Jack Hartmann, and a few others. I also make up a lot of the songs and chants we use in class. I hope that you choose to put a little music into your day. I think you will see that your students will have fun and retain skills — all with singing!
Above all else, you should hear giggles coming from these little ones because they are having so much fun learning!
What should you feel when you enter a great kindergarten classroom?
When you first enter a great kindergarten classroom, you should feel warmth and friendliness. The development of self-esteem is one of the important goals of kindergarten, and each student should feel that what they have to offer is important. As teachers, we are responsible for helping students feel good about who they are and confident in their ability to tackle the challenges of learning.
The kindergarten classroom should also be neat and orderly, so everyone can feel comfortable and at ease. Above all, it must be a friendly, non-threatening place, where students feel safe and secure. And it should be a place of mutual respect, where everyone can bloom. As the teacher, you are responsible for fostering this atmosphere.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about kindergarten today. One thing we can be sure of is that it lays the foundation for learning. I don’t know if the perfect classroom exists, but we should definitely strive for the best. Our children certainly deserve it!