First grade sets the foundation for the rest of a child’s education. Unlike kindergarten, first grade is typically the first year when children experience structured school. There are several different teaching methods to use in a first grade classroom to help transition children from preschool and kindergarten to the later grades. Use a multidimensional approach to provide an effective educational experience.
Class projects work well as a teaching method even in first grade. With a class or group project, students must learn to work together to create a large project. The children learn teamwork, sharing and can see the topic through the eyes of the other group members, which can help reluctant learners understand difficult concepts. Children can make their own class encyclopedia, have pet visits to the class from their own pets to learn about caring for animals and how to observe and report different facts.
Sensory learning is important for first grade as children move from mostly physical learning to more traditional learning methods. Include all four main types of learning in the classroom, including visual, auditory, kinesthetic and auditory-digital to unlock the learning potential of all children. Provide experiences for children to listen to a lesson, perform the lesson, work with hands-on materials and teach each other. According to "Dyslexia Parent" magazine, this provides the best learning environment for children of all learning styles.
In addition to hands-on and other learning methods, it is also important to include traditional learning methods in the classroom. This prepares first graders for standardized testing, end of year reviews and future grades. Include traditional learning methods such as worksheets, lectures and speed drills. Teach children how to take tests and offer occasional pop quizzes. These traditional learning activities prepare children to perform well in later grades.
Play and Physical Education
Play and physical education is an important part of a first grader’s education. Many schools have recess for first graders, where they can run and play during the day. However, not all schools have scheduled recess periods. If your school does not, make sure to allow a time for physical education and free play in the classroom every day. This will teach children to lead active lives, eliminate some of the squirming anxieties six- and seven-year-olds can get and allow the children to take a break from mental activities for a short period so they return to school with fresh minds.
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