10 Helpful Strategies for Preschool Teachers
Over the last four months as a Nursery Teacher in Bangkok, I have learned some valuable strategies and lessons when it comes to teaching a class of two-year-olds. Here is my top 10 (hopefully at least one comes in handy for you!):
Safety comes first, no matter what.
Don’t worry about how much the children are learning or if they aren’t getting the hang of routines right away. As a nursery teacher, I would rather my students be safe, happy, and learn nothing rather than have an emergency medical situation on my hands.
Each school day will be unpredictable and you have to be able to roll with the punches. Whether you are dealing with unruly children, unexpected accidents, or your activities don’t go as planned, being flexible and thinking on your feet is key to being a preschool teacher.
Always have backup games and activities prepared.
Creating weekly lesson plans and schemes of work is a super handy reference in times when you can’t think of what to do next. As two-year-olds have such short attention spans, you will need lots of games to keep them occupied (the more the merrier, as some may not be a hit).
Drill the routines- it is NOT a waste of time.
For many students, this will be their first time at a real school. Children need predictability in their lives! It helps them understand what to expect, what is expected from them, and will help them become relaxed, confident, independent, and more cooperative.
Don’t give up if an activity doesn’t work right away.
Push through! If children aren’t listening, that doesn’t mean you should just move on to the next activity. Rather than focusing on the end result (i.e. making a perfect craft), focus more on the process and exploration of the activity. Keep it short, let them explore the materials and if they are jumping around while doing so, then is that really so bad?
Making silly faces, laughing, singing, making hand gestures, dancing, and using high and low pitches when speaking or reading stories will keep kids more engaged and excited to learn. If you don’t seem engaged, the children most certainly won’t be either.
Let them know who is boss.
It can be stressful when getting your students to settle down and follow instructions, such as lining up or tidying up. Connect with your children, build trust, create a safe environment, create classroom expectations, be consistent, and with time, children will respect you as the authoritative figure. You don’t need to be a stickler about all rules, kids just need to be kids sometimes!
Plan developmentally appropriate activities.
Keep things simple. Kids in a nursery class shouldn’t be learning anything too advanced or doing complicated crafts (this will just lead to frustration). My students learn about shapes, numbers, colours, the alphabet, animals, etc. Don’t forget- two-year-olds also need ample time to play! Also, get to know your students and understand that they are not all at the same developmental level. Each child is unique and will learn at their own pace.
Don’t be afraid to get dirty.
Remember, you are responsible for inspiring your students how to be creative and encouraging them to use their imaginations. This often means getting messy- glue, paint, sand, dirt, marker, you name it! Not to mention the snot and saliva that comes along during flu season!
Don’t lose your temper.
As a teacher, yelling will only just damage your vocal chords, cause stress, and portray a bad message to your students. They will feed off your negative energy. But hey, be stern. Try to emphasize positive reinforcement instead, such as giving out stickers for good behavior.
As exhausting and overwhelming as the job may seem at the start, it DOES get easier and boy will it all be worth it!