Kindergarten classroom management can be tricky, even if they are only three years old! To begin, here is a teacher’s question on managing her mixed-age classroom, which is not an easy task.
‘In one class, I have eight children—six of age five and two of age three. Unfortunately, the 3-year-olds distract the rest of the class, meaning they scream, throw the toys around, turn over our small chairs, etc. So I run after them trying to involve them in the game activities.
Yesterday I was exhausted at the end of the lesson. First, I gave the 5-year-olds an animals colouring page and told them to cut and glue it on the board. Then I took the two 3-year-old children and played, or rather, tried to play on the floor with the animals. But, unfortunately, they started screaming, running, and bothering the others.
Do you have any suggestions on how to handle them and the lesson?’
Kindergarten classroom management suggestions
1. Indeed, firstly, to manage this classroom well, you cannot abandon the majority of the class to colouring. So, you’ll have to ignore those naughty three-year-olds so that you can get on with giving a proper English lesson to the others. If you don’t, eventually the parents will notice that no one is learning anything!
2. As you have the majority of the class aged five and only two 3-year-olds, I would do the opposite of what you are doing currently. That is to say; instead of abandoning the five-year-olds to colouring, where they won’t learn English and devoting yourself to the two brats, I would ignore the brats and focus on teaching the five-year-olds.
3. Generally, three-year-olds cannot learn at the same pace as the five-year-olds (unique exceptions aside). Therefore, if you go at the three-year-olds pace, the five-year-olds will be bored out of their minds. So instead, please focus on the older ones and let the three-year-olds absorb what they can as sponges. Ideally, you might even drop them from the class since they are a total nuisance.
Bad kindergarten classroom management is lose-lose
a. First, five-year-olds are not learning and will be dissatisfied.
b. Next, three-year-olds are being rewarded with your full attention for misbehaving.
c. As a consequence, you are exhausted.
d. Finally, parents will not be happy with the results.
How to manage this kindergarten class
Therefore, things need to change radically, and I would do it like this:
a. If possible, drop the three-year-olds from the class if you can; since they are a nuisance in this context.
b. Tell them off if they scream and throw things. Where possible, ignore them completely. Tell them off firmly if they come near you and the five-year-old children. Concentrate fully on teaching older children. Let the younger ones play QUIETLY in the room while you are teaching. From time to time, please encourage them to join in but give them easy tasks, things they know, things you know they can do. They will absorb the English slowly, and it’s still good for them to be in the room hearing English around them.
c. Use music with choreography and actions to engage the older children. Your activity may attract the younger ones to participate.
d. Use mime and movement.
The importance of classroom management
Kindergarten classroom management is as vital as the subject itself. No one can learn anything in a poorly managed classroom, and the teachers get exhausted.
For other useful classroom management tips see:
All the best
Shelley Ann Vernon
Teaching English Games