The Teacher's Guide to Kindergarten Classroom Management

Effective classroom management varies by grade. This is especially true for Kindergarten where energy and enthusiasm abound.
By 
Jordan Pruitt
 | 
June 22, 2022

All the energy. So much energy. Kindergarten is a very unique time for our scholars. School is new and fresh, as is much of the learning.

All the energy. So much energy. Kindergarten is a very unique time for our scholars. School is new and fresh, as is much of the learning. 

Teaching Kindergarten is unique in our profession as you often have the highest levels of engagement amongst your classes but with that attentiveness, you also get all that energy we mentioned before! 

Kindergarten teachers have to meet that energy and harness it to keep the wheels on the bus going round and round…and not falling off! I have a deep respect for kindergarten teachers, y’all are awesome. 

The Basics of Kindergarten Classroom Management

Effective classroom management is the instructor’s ability to create an environment in which their students can learn at the highest level. We should be striving to remove or mitigate any and all barriers to success for our kids. This means different things at different levels and can vary from lesson to lesson. 

Even your room design can play a big part in the success of a Kindergarten classroom. Can your students move from the necessary places without disturbing a classmate? Can they access what they need without your immediate help? 

In previous articles, I have written about the need for the instructor to gauge the needs of the lesson and the particulars of the students in the class. This still applies in Kindergarten. What conditions are necessary for success? What do you need your students to do? 

This is consistent with other ages until you factor in that your students may have not been in a school setting before. Sure, many of them may have attended preschool but this isn’t a given. 

Before you can jump into specifics on your lesson, you're going to need to teach your kiddos how your classroom works. 

Be very basic, and very specific. You need procedures for everything they need to do on a regular basis. Your responsibility is huge in these students' educational careers. Not only are you going to teach them the foundations of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but you have to teach them how to do school as well!

Every school and every classroom is likely to be different to some degree so I am going to stay a bit general with our strategies and try to keep them broad enough to apply to your setting. 

No matter what, remember why you're focusing on classroom management strategies to begin with: because your students deserve the best opportunity to learn that you can provide. 

Keep reading below for classroom management tips to make your kindergarten  conducive to success!

Classroom Management Strategies for Kindergarten

1. First Things First

Arrival routines should be designed in a way that eliminates unnecessary conflict or distractions. There are several factors at play here including buses, car drop off, and breakfast, among others. 

How your school handles those things is largely out of your control. Focus on what is within your control; your students' arrival in your room. Where do they put their things? Do they have access to the materials they need to start the day? 

Everything needs a home, and a good label maker is your friend here. Be meticulous and detailed about where each item belongs and when they can be accessed.

KIndergarten Classroom Organization

2. Classroom Basics

Ok, your kids have arrived. Now what? Teach your students how the class will function. What is a “whole group”? What is a “small group”? Where do they go for each? What should be on their desk? 

Keep it specific, but I would word your directions as expectations in lieu of rules. This is good advice for any grade level but it's particularly helpful for younger grade levels. 

If you try to list everything your students aren’t allowed to do in kindergarten you're going to need a bigger wall for all those rules. 

Instead, focus on what you expect them to do. This leaves less room for interpretation. 

3. Be a Model

Model your expectations for your students. If you want them to organize and store pencil boxes a certain way, then you should organize and store a pencil box when you give them that information. Provide a visual, provide an example, and be sure to do more than just tell. 

After you show them – maybe even quiz them. Have some fun with it and act out various ways of doing things and ask your students to give you a thumbs up or down for the correct procedure.

4. May I Have Your Attention, Please?

You need several attention-getters. Your students need to know what each of those means and you need to practice it as you introduce it. Call-and-response works great. Here are a few staples to try and a couple of fun ones if you so choose. 

  1. Gimme 5: My hand goes up, all hands go up and all discussion ceases.
  2. 2 Clasp: The teacher does two loud and slow claps, which prompts the class to do two quick claps in response
  3. Chicka Chicka: The teacher says “Chicka Chicka,” and the class responds “Boom, Boom”
  4. Chugga Chugga: The teacher says “Chugga, Chugga,” and the class responds “Choo, Choo”

5. Volume Control

Teach your students how to use appropriate voice levels for the situation they are in. 

  1. Level 0: No Talking
  2. Level 1: Partner work, you may whisper
  3. Level 2: Table work, speak normally
  4. Level 3: Loud and proud, speaking to the entire class during discussion
  5. Level 4: Outside voices, playground talk

Make a habit of referring to this list as you transition to and from activities every day. Practice makes perfect here, remember this is going to be a work in progress. Stay positive, and stay consistent.

6. Role Play

Assign jobs and roles to everyone. Design your class like a small community. Everyone needs a role to fulfill to make the community function. This gives them an outlet to get rid of some energy, interact with classmates, and a vital role in your classroom community. 

Have some fun with it, rotate the jobs, and include a few special designations such as feeding the class turtle or taking a note to the office.

Getting Started in Your Kindergarten Classroom

A few things to consider as we wrap up. First I would recommend spending some time teaching your class how to make it through a day in the event you have a substitute. 

This seems obvious, but preparing them ahead of time can be very beneficial to their productivity during that day and your substitute will certainly be glad you did so! 

I would suggest doing this early and far ahead of time before you actually are out of the class for a day so your class is primed in the event you have an emergency. 

Also, I always advocate for PBIS in schools and classrooms, and kindergarten is a fantastic place to instill some positive behavior reinforcement with classroom rewards. 

Create a system for rewarding your kids, and they will be motivated to meet your expectations. These don’t have to have much value – or any at all. It just matters that they are valued by your students. I would suggest having a system in place to track points for positive behaviors such as LiveSchool, and I would also like to point you toward our posts concerning classroom rewards for a great resource that can totally transform morale and engagement in your room no matter the age level. 

Learn more about the author, 
Jordan Pruitt
 

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We believe rewards build school culture. Do you?

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We believe positive student behavior comes from the right school culture. Do you?

Join a community of 1,000+ schools who use LiveSchool to improve their culture with school-wide points tracking.
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