Getting Started in Kindergarten (What Worked For Me!)

Friday, 4 September 2015

     Planning for the the first few days of kindergarten is different than all the others due to the massive amount of routines and procedures that we introduce. It's also a tricky balance between being clear about expectations, yet not talking too much, and making it a pleasurable first experience for the children. 
     For me, Labor Day weekend has always involved sitting down and trying to plan for those challenging days. Some years I’ve used my plan book, others I’ve just typed up a schedule. I’ve also tried creating a grid or working from a list of procedures, checking them off as I go. What has been frustrating about this, is that I have felt like I was recreating the wheel each year. Shouldn't I have this all figured out by now?
     Well, I'm happy to say that last year's attempt, a card deck, worked like a charm and I was overjoyed when I was able to pull it out this year and, with the exception of a few minor changes, be ready to go.  

     Here's how it worked: I typed up a card for each procedure/routine as well as for the different parts of our day.  On each card was a quick description, or in some cases, a script of how I might introduce a material or a routine along with ideas for songs, gestures or read alouds that might help secure the learning to memory.  I printed them out on cardstock and carefully put them in an order that loosely resembled the schedule I was trying to build.  I also tried to strike a balance between active vs. less active times.
     At the end of the first day, I evaluated what we had accomplished (I ALWAYS plan too much!) and reordered the card deck for the next day.  This meant adding in some new cards and removing others. It worked well because everything I needed to remember about introducing glue sticks, for example, was on one card and yet the cards could easily be rearranged at any point in the day, because as we all know, those first days rarely go as planned.
     So this Labor Day weekend, it pleases me to know, that instead of being stuck home planning, I’m headed to a Luke Bryan concert, the NYS fair, and the Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival! Whoopee!  It only took me 10 years to figure it out!
   What works for you in planning for those first few days?

Update: Some have asked if I would share the deck - I worked this summer to put it into a format that could be shared.   You can find it here: 



Thanks for stopping by!

6 comments:

  1. I really like your idea of using these charts, how did you decide what to type up? For me, the first few days usually are focused on getting the routines consistent and making the expectations clear so that children are ready to learn. A lot of it is preparation work for future learning (eg. completing the title page for ISN's, lessons on AHA moments, reflection tasks, grading options...)

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  2. I really like your idea of using these charts, how did you decide what to type up? For me, the first few days usually are focused on getting the routines consistent and making the expectations clear so that children are ready to learn. A lot of it is preparation work for future learning (eg. completing the title page for ISN's, lessons on AHA moments, reflection tasks, grading options...)

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  3. The cards are my script/teaching points for introducing materials (i.e. crayons), parts of our day (i.e. reading workshop), routines (i.e. getting ready for lunch) and behavior expectations (quiet signal, class promise, etc.). I find that most of what I have to introduce at the beginning falls into these 4 categories, so I began by working from lists in each category. Then I typed up a card for each item on the list. Hope that helps!

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  4. Hello... Great idea! I use a similar concept for my class schedule but I never thought of adding scripts/teaching points. I would love to see some of your script/teaching points. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Replies
    1. As they are now, I can't post them because they contain little rhymes that I don't have permission to share.

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