Role of the Teacher
Your role as a TK teacher is to set up literacy-rich opportunities for your students to explore, practice, learn and develop key concepts and skills. As you thoughtfully and intentionally interact with your students, you are shaping early literacy learning experiences and outcomes. Plan experiences that support literacy development and carefully select literature for learning centers that is interesting, engaging and reflective of cultural diversity.
In your school lesson plans and activities, keep in mind that literacy skills are integrated in all subjects and activities throughout the transitional kindergarten day, including math, science, music, movement and social science, allowing for learning experiences to be interesting and meaningful. Find avenues to engage your students in literacy activities throughout the day and include targeted supports for children who are English language learners to encourage progress in their literacy skills and understanding. This section outlines ways to foster strong literacy skills in your students.
Creating a Classroom Environment that Supports Children’s Learning
- Model a curiosity for learning about new things by pointing out new and exciting events that happen every day in your TK classroom.
- Plan both teacher-initiated and child-initiated activities.
- Encourage children to engage in meaningful conversations with adults and one another.
- Model oral language through self-talk, parallel talk and storytelling.
- Provide repeated exposure to new vocabulary throughout the day in a theme-rich environment.
- Celebrate individual and group successes with a pat on the back, a whole class cheer, a whisper of “good job” and other interactions that promote a positive learning community where children are excited and feel safe in learning new skills.
Key English Language Arts Approaches
- Introduce talking, reading and writing opportunities for children throughout the day.
- Introduce specific new vocabulary within the context of a theme, building knowledge with contextual props such as gestures, movements, realia and, finally, decontextualized understanding.
- Read, read, read and then read some more to the class, to small groups and to individuals (volunteers are helpful). Encourage children to simulate reading to each other in pairs. Choose books that are reflective of the diversity in the classroom.
- Repeat readings of the same books throughout the weeks with specific emphasis on new vocabulary.
- Use songs, chants, stories and games, dance, art, movement—reflective of all cultures—to promote fun phonological awareness activities.
The teaching strategies below give concrete approaches for language arts instruction in your classroom. They are designed to guide developmentally appropriate TK instruction, moving your students along a continuum of learning by bridging the Preschool Learning Foundations with the Kindergarten Common Core. Click through to view all ten.
Strategy 1: Understanding of Language (Receptive)
Strategy 2: Follows Increasingly Complex Instructions
Strategy 3: Communication of Needs, Feelings, and Interests (Expressive)
Strategy 4: Reciprocal Communication and Conversation
Strategy 5: Comprehension and Analysis of Age-appropriate Text, Presented by Adults
Strategy 6: Letter and Word Knowledge
Strategy 7: Phonological Awareness
Strategy 8: Emergent Writing
Strategy 9: Print Concepts
Strategy 10: Integrated Approaches for English Language Development and Family Engagement