What is an exceptional kindergarten curriculum? An English teacher opening a kindergarten asked me for any tips to make their place stand out from the crowd. So here are a few ideas.
Kindergarten is a hands-on place, touching, feeling, building, playing, drawing, dancing, and learning to communicate with others. Hopefully, it is a safe place where kids are nurtured and loved by caring teachers. But what makes it exceptional? Firstly, excellent teachers. Secondly, inspiration. And finally, the kids, of course, who are always amazing!
Most of the time, kindergarten should be a place where children learn and play, using everything related to their age and development. For instance, the kindergarten song “Brother John are you sleeping” is catchy and easy to pick up. But why not include music from extraordinary cultural heritage? Include exceptional music, art, and poetry, not just mega-banalities suitable for toddlers.
Offer music as part of each day. Have a good sound system. You may be used to listening to music through some minute speakers on your computer. However, try listening to music on a powerful sound system, where you can hear all the instruments individually, not just some kind of chewing gum for the ears. You may hear the bow moving across the strings unless you only listen to electronic music with no instruments. LOL! So don’t let preschool kids miss out! Let them hear diverse musical styles.
Here are some examples of inspirational music for kindergarten kids: Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals and Debussy’s Children’s Corner. These works all have stories, and we all know kids love stories. So first, explain the stories behind the music and play extracts. Next, children act out the music as it plays, taking on the roles of the different animals and people depicted. Combine with pictures and videos of the animals in question. Then have children close their eyes, listen and dream of being the animal in question. If you believe this classical music is only for stuffy intellectuals, think again! Check out some of the Disney movies – they usually have classics.
Around the world
Play the great classics from around the world, the significant Chinese classics, the most famous American classics, and so on. By teaching children the gift of appreciating great music that has stood the test of time, you give them an enriching gift for life.
As well as listening to and dancing to music, let kids make music with handmade instruments like bottles and shakers. You will find some great ideas using homemade percussion instruments in this blog.
Discovering art and getting messy with crafts is part of life at kindergarten. In the art classes, the children can make props such as masks that they can use in the music and English classes. Show kids world-famous artists and have them do crafts to imitate these. For example, make a fabulous collage project based on a work by Klimt. Introduce Monet and have kids draw a house and garden based on Monet’s Givenchy paintings. Have kids draw or make a warrior like Emperor Qin’s terracotta army. You are there to inspire the kids. So why not show them the best of what our planet has created so far?
Poetry, language, metaphors, imagination
If you also offer English as a foreign language, that will surely make your kindergarten stand out. Look no further than this website if you want a curriculum for kindergarten kids to learn English. Even teachers with no experience teaching English can follow the lesson plans and steps.
Read poems for children, have children do actions and make sounds at appropriate places. Teach kids the magic of beautiful words. If your kindergarten is in England, check out the Puffin book of Children’s poetry – it’s fab! The sea is a hungry dog, giant and grey, he rolls on the beach all day! Just think of all the fun mimes you can make up to go along with that fabulous poem by James Reeves. The full poem is on this link but please ignore the terrible automated ‘reading’. Ah! Humans are still good for something!
Love and more love !
Firoozeh Mehrinejad contributes this important comment: “The first and important thing to run a kindergarten is the love, love of the kids. There are different factors to having an exceptional kindergarten: kindness, patience, good teachers, also close contact with parents. Include problem-solving on the teaching menu to start preparing kids for life.”
If you want to share any of your ideas on making an exceptional kindergarten, we’d love to hear from you. Just use the comments box below. Of course your email is totally private, it is not used for anything at all, it’s only so I can reply to you if need be.