10 Things to Know for the Beginning of Kindergarten

Whether you’re ready or not it’s time for teachers to think about back to school.

Here are my top 10 things that kindergarten teachers should know to mentally prepare for back to school, be prepared for teaching the first 20 days of kindergarten and for making the beginning of kindergarten successful.

If you want the details from this post (and more) sent directly to you over the next two weeks – then sign up for my free Back to School Bootcamp course. You’ll get my best on starting kindergarten and be on your way to feeling more prepared than ever!

Let’s tackle the mental stuff first. Because – let’s be honestthe beginning of the school year is tough.

1. Focus on what’s most important for right now

Keep your cool if this is your first year teaching or just your first year in kindergarten. I’ve got your back.

Let me help you prioritize what’s most important to focus on right now so you can be the most effective in planning for the upcoming year.

You don’t need to have a Pinterest-worthy room with bells and whistles – but you do need to have a plan and break down the small stuff.

You should: get to know your first set of standards, get a good binder setup and plan for the smallest things (like transitions) you’re gonna need to rely on every day of kindergarten.

Continue reading: Tips for a First Year Kindergarten Teacher >> 

2. There’s a secret no one told you about the first 21 days of school

Do you want in on the secret that takes 21 days of school to unfold?

The students have to learn your voice. Yep – yours. Your teacher voice doesn’t stand out from any other voice they know on day 1, day 12 or day 19… but something magical happens on day 22.

You’ll be surprised that simply learning it takes this long for students to truly hear you can help you minimize frustration at the beginning of kindergarten.

Read more: How to teach them to “hear” your voice >>

3. You should make a checklist

Seriously – I think we kindergarten teachers are rock stars when it comes to making things happen.

We have tons of stuff to accomplish by the first day of school and writing it all down frees us up mentally. You can then prioritize your list with what has to get done asap and what has to wait until you finally get your class list of names.

I’d be lying if I didn’t joke around a little about my own back to school checklist. After all, the list we need to prepare for starting school feels pretty ridiculous sometimes.

4. Their attention span is 15 minutes

When it comes to filling out those lesson plans, plan in 15-minute chunks of time.

Because usually, 15 minutes is their maximum attention span in the classroom setting at first.

Check out how these 5 Activities You Shouldn’t Skip the First Week of Kindergarten can help you get your plans rolling.

5. Plan the little things

Plan the little things. You won’t regret it.

For example, don’t assume that your kinders will know how to line up, blow their nose or get from point A to point B in the classroom without crowd control.

Break down the little things and show them:

I’ve even got a handy little example that will make it quicker to teach them how to line up – even on the first day of school.

6. Think through your seating options

Have you considered offering different seating options for your kinders?

If so, you’ll want to plan out how you want to start out the school year with alternative seating options like sitting, standing, and floor workspaces.

Most likely you’ll need to assign spaces to begin with and then ease into students choosing their own type of seating each time they work.

Continue reading: How to roll out student work spaces >>

7. Distractions happen – so wear your lesson plans

I’m not joking about how busy we get at the beginning of the year. We get pulled a million directions due to distractions and there isn’t a set routine yet the first few days of school.

It’s super easy to literally blank on what procedure you were about to teach and the three things you wanted to go over to teach it.

My solution is to wear your lesson plans. I’m not kidding.

Just put everything you plan onto a lesson plan bracelet and you’ll be able to pick right up after the distraction without missing a beat.

Do this for the first day or two, or the first week until you’re settling into more of a routine and you’re only being pulled in a thousand directions {wink}.

8. Small attention spans means lots of chances to read books aloud

Take this time to read lots of stories with your new brood of kinders. You have so many small time-increments at the beginning of kindergarten that you won’t ever get back later in the school year.

Use this time to teach what your voice sounds like by reading aloud and plan a fun activity to extend the book.

Like read No David! books

David, from the “No David!” books is a lovable character and the bright colors and illustration style usually capture kindergarten hearts right away.

You might like to start off with one or two of these classic 21 No David activities and quick freebies

Or Pete the Cat books

It’s definitely the easy choice to start out the year with Pete the Cat. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes and Rocking in My School Shoes are quick picks students will love.

Try one of these 73 cool Pete the Cat freebies and teaching resources or something from these 51 groovy Pete the Cat lesson plans and freebies to help you extend your read-alouds.

Or go the classic route with The Kissing Hand

The Kissing Hand is a sweet story about leaving home and starting school. It’s a classic read-aloud that many kindergarten teachers read the first week of school.

You can probably think of a quick craft to go with it and – boom – you’ve got a good 30 minute chunk of time planned out.

Or you can check out these 27 Kissing Hand freebies and teaching resources to go with the book.

9. Don’t skip making emergency sub plans

No one wants to even think about being out of the classroom at the beginning of the year. But you can feel more prepared if you make plans ahead of time to use in an emergency.

Don’t make it hard on yourself! Just snag these standards-based free beginning of the year kindergarten emergency sub plans and you’re set to go. You’ll love how easy it is to pick your lessons and print.

10. You’ve got this

I know you can rock this school year.

I’ll be the first to admit that teaching kindergarten isn’t for everyone – goodness – I student taught in fourth grade and cried almost every day afterwards. We all have different strengths and talents.

But I wanted to tell you – even if you’re unsure about kindergarten – I hope you can find this list to be helpful so you can not only survive, but enjoy your year. You can do this.

In kindergarten, so much work is done on the front end in order to pay off all year long.

And if you’re excited about this year in kindergarten – then welcome to the right place. I invite you to join thousands of kindergarten teachers on facebook as we focus on making learning the fun and the cool thing to do.


There you have it. My top ways to mentally prepare for back to school, get prepared for teaching the first 20 days of kindergarten and for starting out the school year successfully.

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

If you’re ready for more, read these 12 tips to start a successful kindergarten year.

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