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Their brains are like sponges and absorb everything... sometimes even when you think they're not listening.

Their brains are like sponges and absorb everything... sometimes even when you think they're not listening.

Starting Off on Day One: Kindergarten

Don't Sweat It!

You Got This, No Problem

I still remember those "night before jitters". It was horrible. I kept saying to myself that I didn't know what I was walking into and that it was going to be a total disaster.

Well, guess what?
I was wrong.

You knew this day was coming and you prepared for it. So, what are you so worried about? You read everything that you needed to read; watched everything you could through the Internet. There's nothing to worry about when it comes to substitute teaching. Besides, you've got time on your side. If you use it productively you can make the days will fly by.

Kindergartners in the Morning

The power that crayons can wield is remarkable.

The power that crayons can wield is remarkable.

Most teachers, if not all, when it comes to maintaining order in the classroom have a particular program that everybody follows. This is particularly important when it comes to small children, especially toddlers.

This is important for it helps improve memory as well as their dexterity (ex. removing/putting on coats, gloves, hats, boots, etc.). It helps them keep organize and to be responsible for their own things.

When the children first enter the classroom, they'll not only be surprised to see you, but greet you with tons and tons of the same questions - over and over again. Just remind them to put away their coats and things and to bring everything with them that they're supposed to bring and that you will explain everything. Chances are that there may be a few who will forget to bring with them something. The morning entrance can be rather lengthy so you may have to constantly remind them to hurry and get to their seat. A sure way to get the class motivated is to tell them that they may color for ten (10) minutes before everybody starts the school day. This not only good exercise but it this also helps improve their handwriting as they get older, and writing becomes more essential (that's why we try to "stay-in-the-lines").

Important Note

When substitute teaching, the teacher will most likely have an itinerary for you to follow. Try to follow this EXACTLY to the best of your ability. You may go off trail a bit, but always remember to come back to the itinerary. Time may get away from you, in fact, you can expect it.

Crafts are a sure way to obtain control of a Kindergarten classroom.

Crafts are a sure way to obtain control of a Kindergarten classroom.

Always Plan Ahead

Introductions are very important, don't fake it!

Introductions are very important, don't fake it!

Introducing Yourself to a Kindergartner Class

Now, after the class has come in and you have made sure that everyone is busy and MOST importantly, in their seat, it's time for introductions. Making sure that Kindergartens stay in their seat is like trying to keep a litter of puppies in one place - it's next to impossible. You're going to experience a couple of moments of almost "out-of-control behavior", but more than likely that won't happen until further into the day.

Taking Attendance

Try not to forget! This is very important. You may want to hold off until a little later in the morning before turning in the attendance sheet. Kindergartners are known for running a little behind.

Start Things Off

Introduce yourself to the class in the manner you would like to be addressed. Tell them a little about yourself and be sure to include how excited you are to be there and meet all of them. More than likely the teacher will have a seating chart with each student's name to where they should be sitting. Go around the class and say the students name to make sure you're pronouncing it correctly. Let the student tell something about themselves, but to make it quick.

Important Note

There's a reason why the teacher has placed each student in their current assigned seat. While you are substitute teaching, you will soon figure out why each student is placed where they are. Kindergartners like to visit with their friends, even if they are on the other side of the classroom. When this happens, and it will, calmly remind them that they are not to get up out of their seat.

Be as helpful as you can and remember to be patient.

Be as helpful as you can and remember to be patient.

Eating Snacks

Students Get Hungry

Especially Kindergartners

A morning snack is a helpful way to keep students in their seats. Expect a little chit-chat but make sure they are to keep it down. This is a great time to prep for the next assignments that have been prepared. While the students are being occupied with healthy snacks, you can get your paperwork ready and go over, once again, the itinerary that has been prepared for you.

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A healthy school lunch is not only mandatory it's every child's right.

A healthy school lunch is not only mandatory it's every child's right.

The Days Lesson

Like each classroom and teacher are different, expect each assignment to be slightly different as well. Some Kindergarten classes may be working on letters while other classrooms are working on numbers. All you need to do is go with the flow.

When substitute teaching Kindergartners, I find it easier to teach and get their full attention when I get really involved; really act as though writing letters, numbers and words are the coolest thing on Earth. The funny thing is when it comes to this method, I really do believe writing letters and numbers are the coolest thing on Earth!

The lesson plans aren't as particulate as the older grades, so don't worry if some students write huge letters while others write extremely small. Instruct the students on how to correctly write letters, numbers and words on instructive writing paper.

Most Common Writing Paper

Each student should be able to write their own name. Some students' names are rather longer than others so a little extra help may be required. The attention span of Kindergartners isn't very long so when you feel patience wearing thin, fall back on coloring and take out the crayons.

Coloring is very important. Not only does it help with imagination but having them try to "stay-in-the-lines" while coloring will develop stronger fingers and the ability to focus longer. I've noticed when I'm substitute teaching, students who focus harder on coloring tend to have better handwriting.

Library Time

While being a substitute teacher you may be required to take students to the library. Taking Kindergartners to the library is absolutely necessary. Showing them that there are other ways to gather information besides using the Internet.

The library is absolutely necessary in a students development.

The library is absolutely necessary in a students development.

Going to the library is important in the development of every student. It is to be understood that the library is meant for studying and not playtime. It is important that students, especially Kindergartners, understand that going to the library is a privilege and should be respected. Students are to remain on their best behavior and to keep as quiet as possible.


Lunch and recess are usually handled by school aides. Teachers are sometimes needed when there are a whole lot of students to keep an eye on. However, this is not always the case. Most schools will break lunchtime into two or three different times to make it easier for aides to watch over the students while teachers get a well-deserved break and time to prep forward for the rest of the day ahead.

Gym, Art and Music

These three classes are sometimes referred to as "specials". Substitute teachers can find themselves in one of these positions as well.

Gym class is usually the most popular of the three. This can be quite tricky since Kindergartners tend to like to run around...a lot. Gym class is right up their alley. However, this is when keeping order is most important.

Art and music seem to lose the interest of students so keeping things upbeat and exciting you'll find is most helpful.

End of school can be complete chaos if not maintained orderly.

End of school can be complete chaos if not maintained orderly.

End of School

When the school day is complete, you'll find students get a sudden burst of energy and focus. Take advantage of this time, let students know that the end of the school day is upon them. Take at least 30-45 minutes to let Kindergartners start to get ready to go home.

Follow the students out the exit door and be sure to watch them leave safely. Remind students to walk and to be careful around the school parking lot. They are to look out for cars and to stay close to their parent/guardian.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 James Timothy Peters

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