How to Minimize Teacher Frustration in Kindergarten: The Secret I Learned for Back to School


I have a secret to share with you.

It’s one little thing that took me a few years to learn – but when I did – it made all the difference in how I felt about and approached the first few days of kindergarten.

It was such a relief to figure this out! And I’m excited to share it with you.

The beginning of the year is tough

I know I’m not alone in dreading what the beginning of the school year is like.

It’s tough… especially since the last time you left your classroom you had a brood of kinders who knew what to do, when to do it and you had connections with them.

It was kinda breezy. I loved that about May.

Well, come the beginning two weeks of school and there is so much mental {and physical} energy spent that it can feel a bit like trudging through mud while having to herd cats.

It can totally be overwhelming changing activities every 15 minutes, teaching simple procedures like restroom or lunch room expectations or even getting ready for the hallway… the list is literally days long.

In order to keep some sanity during this time I recommend keeping the following in mind…

They don’t know your voice. Yet.

If it all possible remind yourself – that they don’t know your voice – yet.

That class you left back in May – you could speak softly and they’d all tune into what you’re saying – even from across the room.

These new kinders have no recognition of your voice – literally.

And that’s okay. It takes time to develop.

And then remind yourself their brain physically doesn’t recognize your voice – but they will. Soon.

So, when you’re working hard on acceptable classroom procedures and that one kinder sitting on the carpet is talking to the person next to them and has no clue you are talking to the entire class… take a moment… to breathe.

Then magic happens

Somewhere between day 20 and day 25 – the one simple {almost magic} thing that changes everything else like a domino effect – happens. They learn your voice.

They really “hear” your voice – they’ve heard it over enough period of time (in varying tones, volumes, etc.) that it will pierce their little train of thought and you can more easily and quickly gain their attention.

My favorite teacher down the hall describes it like when you hear your mom’s cough or sneeze at the store over all other background noise no matter how loud or quiet it is and no matter how far away.

Learning this one thing made the biggest difference in my attitude. 

It aligned my expectations so that I felt less frustrated and could literally count down to the magical day they all would “hear” my voice.

Why it matters long term

While using a song to gather attention, a chant, call/response are all fantastic ways to get attention – I want to grow past that.

And fast – because, for me, coming up with those “gimmicky” ways to get attention on the spot a dozen times in a day is exhausting.

I want my kinders to learn to use the natural daily routines to transition between activities without my verbal instructions, but I also want to be able to capture attention at the drop of a hat using a regular volume talking voice no matter what’s going on in the classroom.

Later when I would teach small groups using a ‘just above a whisper voice’ and then raise my voice to a regular level speaking voice to address the whole class – they all understood the reason for the change in voice levels and the audience it demanded.

It looked like magic to everyone who entered our classroom.

Teach them how to “hear” your voice

Here is what I learned makes the process smoother during those first 20-25 days of school.

Be intentional about when you talk

When I realized that it would take 20 days for my kinders to learn this particular skill, it reminded me that there is an “end” in sight – so to speak.

That there would be a day that this year would automatically get easier… It also reminded me that I needed to be very intentional about how I use my voice (as much as possible).

This meant that I needed to not over-talk.

At least in my regular speaking volume. A tricky thing, especially the first few days when you feel like you have to explain everything… but it’s a necessary thing.

This established that when I spoke in this voice that I determined was for speaking to the entire class (whether in front of me on the carpet or spread across the room), it was for a specific reason. My expectations, body language and follow-through all lined up with it.

Train their ears

I needed to work on teaching using multiple levels of volume.

Teaching with whispers, a super huge voice (to reaffirm a fun teaching point) and all levels in between did two very important things for me.

  1. It helped me keep their attention and
  2. they were being trained to hear what my voice sounded like – not just being trained to listen for specific “gimmicky” chants, attention getters, etc.

I wanted to be able to get my students attention in two seconds. And it works.

Plus, I’d sing transitions a lot. This helped them learn my voice too in a different way that attracts five-year-olds like moths to a flame. Try it – I dare you… no matter what you think of your own singing abilities.

The benefits of learning this gave me something to look forward to during the first few tough and tiring weeks! I hope it can do the same for you. Teach them your voice and count down the days!

Want to feel more prepared to start the school year?

Get this tip and 8 more of my best stuff on starting kindergarten sent directly to your email with my free Back to School Bootcamp course and be on your way to feeling more prepared than ever! It’s perfect for a new teacher or even if you’re just new to kindergarten.

More back to school

My favorite beginning of the year teaching resources


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  1. Thank you for this! I am new to kindergarten (switched from 2nd) and have been struggling with them listening to me and hearing me. I had one boy say “oh I didn’t hear you” and I was thinking to myself ‘how did you not hear me?!?!’. So this is exactly what I needed to read this weekend to prep for the upcoming week. THANK YOU!

  2. We’re having summer courses to get them to remember past year’s learning points and I realized that the kids weren’t concentrating on the teacher at all and it made me wonder. Thanks to your post, now I know what to tell my teachers.

  3. Loved how you summed up how hard those first weeks are! You know my pain 🙂 This article helped me feel validated! (and a little more patient) Thanks

  4. This is so great ! I also always remind myself that they don’t love me yet, not the way the kinders I had last year do! The way that makes them want to do things that make their teacher happy. The way that makes them feel like they are part of a family who ” has their backs”, a family that we work 9 months together to build!

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