Kindergarten is a pivotal year in your child's academic development. It is the first formal year of instruction, and the teacher will introduce many new skills throughout the year. Good teachers are crucial for every grade level, but the kindergarten teacher will set the tone for your child's opinions about school in general and learning in particular. An effective kindergarten teacher will make your child feel comfortable in a new environment and help him learn with methods that best suit his individual needs.
If possible, observe how your child's teacher manages the classroom. You should see a room buzzing with activity -- children working at tables or interacting at learning centers with the teacher monitoring the students. A good teacher will not allow students to run around the room, push each other or scream their demands. She will maintain an atmosphere conducive for learning by implementing a behavioral plan from the first day of school and consistently following it. You will see evidence of this after a few visits to the room.
Parent-teacher communication is crucial in all grades. However, it is essential in kindergarten because primary students cannot relay all the information that their parents need to know. After school begins, notice how often the teacher communicates with you. Are there daily or weekly homework and behavior notifications? If you have concerns, does the teacher return your phone calls or answer notes that you send to her? A good kindergarten teacher realizes the need for frequent communication with parents and takes the time to ensure that it occurs. She might send a monthly newsletter informing you of upcoming assessments or field trips. She will also find a way to talk to you even if this requires emails or text messages.
You might be surprised at the skills that your child will learn in kindergarten. Teachers have a state-mandated curriculum that they follow. By the end of the year, your child will be reading grade-level texts, writing complete sentences and adding and subtracting. A good teacher will frequently assess the students to determine if they are mastering the skills. She will adjust her teaching methods or reteach skills if the children are struggling to understand them.
To a great extent, the kindergarten teacher is the determining factor in whether or not your child enjoys school. A good teacher will use a variety of activities to keep students interested, including songs and games that reinforce skills. She will also use small group teaching methods to help struggling students. In a small group setting of three to five students, the teacher can work on specific skills like letter naming or number recognition. If possible, she will also utilize technology like Smart Boards and iPads to reinforce classroom instruction. A good kindergarten teacher knows that 5-year-olds have to be actively engaged in the learning process.
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images