How to Teach Kindergarten
When we talk about teaching kindergarten, what we really mean is supporting your child’s healthy development in the early years. Your job is to create the environment for him to thrive. Here’s how to do that!
How to Teach Kindergarten
Young children thrive on days full of play, connection, and rhythm.
Your child wants to play, and for good reason! All that play has a purpose - it’s the number one tool for learning in the kindy years. Play can be active, imaginative, or imitative (or often all three). You can support your child’s need for play by protecting his time and not letting his days get overcrowded. Trust that your child knows how to play (much better than you do) and doesn’t need you to entertain him! Consider it a good thing if your child has some opportunities to get bored and make his own fun. Spend plenty of time outside, tell stories, and hold the space for play with a comfortable rhythm in the home.
Your child needs a strong relationship with you to thrive. Prioritize connection in your family! Laugh with your child, read books together, sing to her, and be present with her. Take good care of yourself too so you have the energy to invest in connection.
Your child needs you to guide the rhythm of his days. When his days and weeks follow a predictable pattern, he feels safe and secure. A gentle feeling of in-breath and out-breath in the day leads to a calm, engaged child. Rhythm provides the container for days full of play and connection!
Here’s what else you can do to support your child in the kindergarten years:
Spend as much time as you can out of doors! Outdoor play is a sensory-rich experience for children. It also provides the most open-ended toys on earth and lets them be creative. Outside, young children play with sand, mud, sticks, pinecones, acorns, stones, and more. They construct little universes out of simple materials. They’re moving their bodies constantly and using their hands too.
I recommend making outside play one of your top priorities in the early years - go outside every day, and in every season! Take walks, build forts, dig in the sand, make an outdoor mud kitchen, collect rocks, plant seeds, roll down grassy hills, brew potions, and admire your child’s endless energy and creativity!
Stories inspire the imagination and your child longs to hear more and more and more stories! Tell little stories about when you were little, and when your child “was little.” Tell stories you make up about the squirrels in your yard or the fairies in the forest. Tell folk tales and fairy tales from around the world.
Notice that when you tell the same story several times, it begins to live in your child as well. Now your child has that story for inspiration. She can tell it to you or to her dolls, she can act it out, she can dress up, she can set the scene for a puppet play. She can bake muffins for Red Riding Hood’s basket, make a little house for the fairies, leave a trail of crumbs in the woods. She can take threads and themes and make her own stories. Stories inspire so much play!
Lavender’s Blue Kindergarten includes 48 stories (twelve for each season), so you never need to draw a blank when your child asks, “Tell me a story!”
Want to set the stage for strong language skills? Provide a language-rich environment! Besides telling stories, sing together, recite rhymes, and do fingerplays. Young children respond very well to rhythmic language and they will often want to sing and recite right along with you. They will love to dance and move while they sing too. Singing paired with movement of the bodies and hands builds capacities for language, music, memory, and even mathematics!
I also love the power of singing together for increasing connection and rhythm in my home. Sing lullabies at bedtime, blessings at meals, songs for when it’s time to go out to play or time to clean up the toys or time to settle down for a story. Singing is a gentle way to direct children’s attention and set the mood in your home.
You’ll find 75 songs, verses, and rhymes in Lavender’s Blue Kindergarten, all recorded for you on mp3, and pulled together into an imaginative and playful seasonal circle time (with movement suggestions to boot)!
Move Your Bodies
Oh yes, movement is crucial in the kindy years. The brain develops in a body, and that body needs to move! Notice your children can’t sit still? Wonderful, keep them moving! Go outside to play, move while you sing, do wonderful work with the hands (crafts, modeling, sandbox, fingerplays, cleaning, baking bread, and more), go for walks while you tell stories, give your child a little garden plot and some tools, make activity part of your family life, and don’t worry at all about sitting at a desk until your child is a bit older!
Take Care of Your Home and Hang Out in the Kitchen
The work of the home provides many opportunities for moving bodies and hands. Work together to sweep the floor, fold the clothes, wash the dishes, rake the leaves, scrub the tub, and chop the veggies. Slow down and do things by hand, and let your child help! (You’ll be so glad later that you took this time in the early years!) Notice how your child imitates you, and how the simple work of the home is rhythmic, sensory, and inspires play. And you can sing while you work, too!
Explore Color and Form in a Playful Way
Your little one was born with an itch to make art. No need for instruction in the early years, just explore color and form in a playful way! Draw pictures and make props inspired by your stories. Make simple crafts inspired by the seasons. Take a journey through the color wheel with watercolor painting. Make figures with beeswax and acorns with wool. Make playdough together and watch your child set up a bakery (get ready to visit often and order many cakes and cookies). Give your child art materials he can mess and experiment with. Let your child watch you create and make beautiful things with your hands, too.
There are 36 simple crafts for you to play with in the Lavender’s Blue Kindergarten curriculum, plus color stories for watercolor painting and beeswax ideas for each week, all inspired by the stories and seasonal circle time! I’ve even included video tutorials on working with beeswax modeling clay and wet-on-wet watercolor painting in the kindy years.
Snuggle Up and Read Wonderful Books
There’s nothing like snuggling up with your adorable child and a pile of wonderful books! And it’s hard to think of a better foundation for a great education. Want your child to be a good reader, writer, thinker...and an interesting person? Cultivate a love of good literature now, together!
Enjoy the Rhythm of Your Days
An understanding of rhythm as a tool for learning is a big thing that sets Waldorf apart from other methods of education. Set your child up for healthy, happy kindy years and beyond with a peaceful rhythm in your home. You can start by adding just one small special moment to your days, such as storytime every day after lunch, and notice what a big difference that makes! When you guide the rhythm of your days, your child can relax and do his most important job - play!
So often parents struggle with rhythm. One idea is to replace any negative thoughts you have with a few curious questions instead. If you catch yourself thinking “I’m terrible at this rhythm thing,” “I just don’t get it,” “Ugh, we got off track again,” etc., try instead asking yourself a question like “What felt smooth and easy today - and I wonder why?” “What’s the most fun we have together - can we do more of that?” “Little Tyke was really absorbed in play at such-and-such moment - what made that such a great moment?” “I felt calm and in the moment at such-and-such time - I wonder why?” This may seem silly, but try it! Ask yourself, “What can I do so I enjoy the rhythm of our days?” Ask yourself every night before you go to sleep, and see how rhythm starts to feel for you.
For more help on crafting a rhythm that works for your family, check out the free Rhythm Quick Start Guide. Sign up below to have it sent straight to your inbox!
And of course the Lavender’s Blue Kindergarten curriculum includes guidance on creating daily and weekly rhythms in the kindy years!
This giveaway is now closed. Here's what our winner Erin wrote:
"Hi! I found lavenders blue almost 2 years ago now and at the end of the coming summer i will venture into homeschooling our oldest son. The community i live in is very homeschool friendly but is trying to use their own curriculum as the one to follow. I appreciate the tlc you have to offer as well the ability to tailor to each individual family. A big thanks for that."