Are you preparing for your first job in childcare? Are you a new preschool or pre-K teacher leading a classroom of students for the first time?
We want to help make your first weeks in your new classroom exciting, fun, and less overwhelming by sharing several early childhood education best practices that you can implement into your daily lessons. We’re also sharing tried and true advice from the educators in our U-GRO classrooms who keep our learning centers running everyday.
A Routine Can Be Your Best Friend
Your childcare center or preschool program will have a routine in place for each of its classrooms that will serve as a guide during your first few weeks on the job. As you get comfortable in your classroom, you can add your own touches to the established routine.
- Transitions can be tricky! Give your students plenty of notice before you wrap up one activity and move on to the next item on your schedule.
- Introduce short songs or sayings that you recite as your students move from one activity to the next. Singing the same songs help students get into the right mindset for what’s coming next.
- Don’t be afraid to be flexible and change course if something in your routine is just not going as planned on a certain day. There’s always tomorrow!
Get To Know Each Child
You’ll soon realize that not all preschool or pre-K students are the same. During the early days in your new classroom, take some time to talk one-on-one with each of your students and get to know them.
- Do they have any siblings? Do they have pets?
- What do they want to learn about?
- What do they want to be when they grow up?
It makes each child feel special, but it also gives you an idea of how you can structure your teaching to reach each student.
Put your powers of observation to work.
- Which students naturally take charge and which tend to shy away?
- Which children love to sing or draw and which love science or sports?
- Which students work well together and which students have trouble getting along with each other?
All of these observations can be used to help make your classroom activities run more smoothly.
Be a Learner, Not Just a Teacher
If this is your first job in childcare, you might feel like you need to know all the answers. But exploring new topics and new activities along with your students allows you to be a learner, too.
- Try an experiment, create an art project, or read a story that’s as new to you as it to the rest of the class.
- Celebrate successes and get disappointed over failures right along with your students.
- Give your class opportunities to teach you. Ask them questions like, “What happened when you…?” “How did you make…?” “Can you tell me what it feels like when…”
Allowing students to show-off their areas of expertise and share their opinions helps to develop self-confidence and build self-esteem.
You Have to Laugh at Yourself
With an audience as unpredictable as children, no single day will go exactly as planned. Mistakes will happen, messes will be made, and tantrums will be thrown.
- Instead of showing signs of stress or panic, which your students will likely pick up on, find a way to let it roll off your back.
- Give a chuckle and say, “Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen!” or “Can you believe what I did?”
- Don’t be afraid to do what you can to get a laugh out of your students. Do silly voices when reading a book, tell jokes, wear funny costumes during play time, and sing and dance during brain breaks.
Words of Wisdom from U-GRO Teachers
We wanted to let our U-GRO team share their words of wisdom to those who are starting their first job in childcare. These ladies have been there and done that!
Leah, toddler room teacher at U-GRO Hershey:
“My advice for first-year teachers is don’t be afraid to ask questions, speak up and share your expertise! Everyday is a new day. Even every afternoon is a fresh start, so don’t let things carry over. Have fun everyday!”
Krista, K-readiness teacher at U-GRO Hempfield:
“My advice for new teachers is to give yourself ample time to adapt to the program. It may seem daunting at first, but in time, it will become easier and automatic. There is a lot of information to take in at first, but after a few months, it will become second nature. Just stick with it!
My advice for handling the everyday is to just step back and put things in perspective. If something is overwhelming, then break it into more manageable chunks. Celebrate each chunk that is accomplished. If something is really overwhelming then ask for help or look to find a different way to accomplish the task.”
Krystle, pre-K teacher at U-GRO York:
“My biggest piece of advice is to stay positive. When you present a positive attitude, your children will feed off that. Likewise, if you get frustrated, so will they. You are a mirror for each and every body you are in charge of, so model the way you want them to behave. Model the way you want them to make choices. Show them how to handle conflict by being flexible when faced with a problem. Talk it out! Take a few deep breaths, throw out the negative thoughts, and move on to a positive solution.”
If you’re interested in starting your first job in childcare at a U-GRO Learning Centre, explore our Career page and find out how you can join our team!