As an educator, it's important to research the most effective teaching practices to implement in the classroom. An effective teaching system ensures all the children get the maximum benefits from every lesson, and you can track your children’s progress. However, there’s much to consider when developing a strategy that works for your children.
In this blog post, we’ll explain what teaching practice is, why it’s important, and share some of the best teaching practices to observe as an early childhood educator.
What are teaching practices?
Teaching practices are methods and strategies to use in your instruction to ensure your preschoolers get optimal benefit from all the lessons in the classroom. This includes all aspects of their growth, including social-emotional, language, physical, behavioral, and cognitive development.
Other aspects of teaching practice include deciding how preschoolers' behaviors should be corrected and setting classroom routines and schedules.
Why is teaching practice important?
Effective teaching practices have several benefits, including:
- Improving children's engagement in the classroom. Good teaching practices help you develop lesson plans tailored for your preschoolers to ensure they get the most out of every activity. It also allows you to form a positive relationship with preschoolers, encouraging them to interact with you in the classroom.
- It ensures you provide your preschoolers with the support they need. Effective teaching practice allows you to understand the individual needs of your children and work with curricula that support their academic growth.
- It helps you establish strong relationships with preschoolers and their families. A child's origin always has a huge impact on their learning. An effective teaching practice allows you to interact with your preschoolers' family to understand their background better. It also encourages one-on-one sessions with children, which gives you a deeper understanding of the support they need.
- It improves the quality of feedback you provide to your learners. An effective teaching practice helps you understand and measure your preschoolers' progress and provide them with quality feedback. This is by responding with accurate and relevant information.
Incorporate learning objectives into your daily lesson plans. Download our free daily lesson plan template and customize it to suit your teaching style and children's needs.
Best teaching practices
As an educator, when you establish effective teaching practices, your children have more opportunities to learn and grow. You can implement many strategies to create a cohesive learning environment for your preschoolers. However, remember that preschoolers will benefit from diverse strategies. Before settling for a schedule or routine, try other practices and see what works best for your children.
Here are some proven early childhood teaching practices to try out in your classroom.
1. Create a conducive environment for your learners
Whether preschoolers are spending three or eight hours in a classroom, the design of the physical space has a huge impact on their learning. Having a well-designed classroom can help close the preschooler's achievement gap. A conducive environment is especially crucial for children who join the classroom and are still transitioning, and it makes the process easier and helps them settle in.
To know whether your classroom supports their growth, ask yourself what message it sends to your children. A good environment will send positive messages such as:
- You belong here
- This is a safe place to try and explore new ideas
- You can trust this environment
A good space can be created by choosing colors that evoke positivity and soothe feelings, keeping decorations at the children's eye level, or having live plants in the classroom. Pay attention to the overall physical space to ensure it offers a calm learning environment.
2. Integrate child assessment data in individual and group planning
This is one of the simplest concepts, but it's also the foundation of understanding your preschoolers. It's important to gauge how preschoolers perform individually and in group work. For this to happen, begin by taking a genuine interest in your preschoolers' lives—get to know their interests, learn what motivates them to develop new skills, and understand their barriers to learning.
In addition, use formative and summative assessments to gauge the progress of your preschoolers. For example, you can do a summative assessment after every work block, whether it's an entire school year or a series of lesson plans. You can also try formative assessments after every day-to-day activity. This will help you understand each child's needs and how to best support them.
3. Encourage good communication in the classroom
Children are more at ease when they can communicate their needs and know that their opinions are heard. As an educator, it's important to teach your preschoolers how to communicate by doing the following:
- Acknowledge what they say. It's important that children know you notice and hear them by giving them attention, whether it's through observation or a simple comment. For example, if a child helps another one stand up after falling, you can say, "Good job, James. We should always help our friends when they're in need."
- Encourage persistence. Praising effort is great, but it's important to teach preschoolers it's okay to push themselves. For example, when a child is given a story and struggling to find the right words, you can tell them, "You're thinking of amazing words to describe the cat, Kavi—keep going!"
- Provide supportive feedback. Instead of giving general feedback, find a way to give specific feedback to your preschoolers. For example, you can say, "The ball never went into the hoop, Juliet. You might want to throw a little harder next time."
4. Promote critical thinking and problem-solving
No child is born a critical thinker; it's a skill they need to master. Here are some tips on transforming preschoolers into critical thinkers:
- Encourage children to ask questions. Support children’s problem-solving skills by giving them space to ask questions and figure out how to do things on their own. For example, when you're doing a project, you can ask questions like, "Do you think there is any other way to do it?" or "What should we do next?"
- Allow room for independence. It's easy to fall into the temptation to do things in the classroom when you know you can do them faster. However, give preschoolers a chance to step up every chance they get, which will help build their confidence.
- Listen to them. Hear them out when they have an idea for a new project and encourage them to explore.
5. Consider dual language learners
A good teaching practice should accommodate dual language learners. This includes developing strategies that encourage children to continue learning their first language as they learn English.
If you don't understand a child's first language, find other ways to support them. For example, you can arrange for volunteers who speak the preschooler's home language to come and engage with them. You can also find other appropriate materials like videos or visuals to encourage them to continue developing their home language.
6. Have routines in place
Having routines can help children move smoothly during their daily activities in the classroom. Come up with an effective schedule and embrace it by explaining it to the children. Consistent routines foster learning by eliminating distractions and keeping learners in sync.
Some ways you can enforce the routines include:
- Giving forewarnings to children before transitions. For example, you can tell them, "We have ten more minutes to play before clean-up time."
- Incorporating cues like a small bell, singing, or dimming lights as an indicator that it's time to start or stop an activity.
- Using visual aids. For example, you can use puppets to reinforce a routine of waiting in line to wash your hands before eating. The puppets can discuss the importance of washing hands before eating and respecting each other when waiting in line.
- Imaginative interaction such as role-playing. For example, you can act out what it's like and not like to be calm when waiting.
Effective teaching practices are vital in early childhood learning. A good strategy allows children to get the best out of every lesson. It also makes learning fun for children because the lessons are tailored according to their needs. By interacting and monitoring the preschoolers' progress, an educator can support every child based on their individual needs.