How to Teach Kindergarten Groups Online

By Mark Hemming
A range of techniques and games to use when teaching kindergarten groups remotely

Once upon a time in a land far away teaching was limited to a physical person turning up at a school and doing their thing. Then Skype came along, and the online teaching revolution for face-to-face tuition began. While one-on-one teaching via video conference is hardly innovative in nature these days, a new development is coming about, and that new ground is group lessons for kids online.

Kindergartens worldwide are beginning to warm to the attraction of getting a native speaker to teach their children without the hassle of travel or visa costs, so this lesson format is likely to see steady growth over the coming years.

This article will cover some foundational tips that will help you when teaching a kindergarten group online, so let’s make a start on our all-important advice!

Getting them to warm to you

What can you do from the first lesson on to make sure lesson time is fun, active and more importantly productive? The answer lies in encouraging loudness. Your opening questions may well be greeted with chirping crickets, and that’s fine. Model a correct answer with them (for example ‘it’s Wednesday’ if you’re ‘What day is it?’) and get them to shout it out as loud as they can. If they’re still not particularly outspoken, make an ‘I can’t hear you’ face and cup your ear as a cue, then ask them to repeat anew.

Once you’ve tried this with a few questions, you’ll notice students are less reticent to speak and get used to a ‘talk out loud’ atmosphere in the classroom. This overcomes the group lesson difficulty of   getting answers from individuals if they are used to all giving their individual responses at the same time, and will get your kids fully comfortable with expressing themselves in English.

Keeping things controlled in the classroom

One thing that is fundamentally tough with an online group is discipline. Here’s an approach that will help you keep your online group under control – try playing an active game with them on the first day where they have to sit down when they see a certain flashcard or object – a toy dog, a stop flashcard, it could be anything.  Make a big deal out of it, encouraging them to hurry to sit down when they see your chosen sign.  Next time you need them to focus mid activity, show the card or toy and get them to sit down. You’ll notice the kids react in the same way as during the game, and you’ll have an ordered, sat-down classroom in no time ready for your next instructions.

On a similar note, having a number of spontaneous focus activities to run with the class when it all goes a bit out of hand can do exactly the same job; a quick unplanned round of ‘Simon says’ or doing a short song for one minute before going back to the activity at hand works extremely well in terms of readjusting class focus.

Specific activities that work extremely well

Think all activities that are run online for a kid’s group have to be boring? Fear not, as a world of possibilities awaits – try the following sure-fire successes in your online class:

Point to X

Getting the kids to point to a specific item in the room related to your topic, for example ‘point to a red shirt/blue shoes/yellow dress’ really increases engagement levels, and they’ll want to play this game (or variations of it) with you time and time again.

Touch a Colour

Set them free within the classroom environment to touch something that’s green, blue, orange etc. This activity can be widened to find something big, small, square – the list is endless.  You could even make it into a treasure hunt where they have to bring an item of your chosen colour to the screen to show you.

Additional Tips

You can still make use of the possibilities of the room with an online group, putting the kids in a circle or other formation and asking them to change places to keep things fresh.  Any change or new activity can take a while to get, as explanations are harder to model online than in person, but once you’ve got them to successfully change places or make a circle once, they’ll know exactly what to do for next time.

Group rewards

Any kindergarten teacher knows the power of rewards, whether it’s sticker time at the end of a lesson or handing out small prizes, but how can you reward your students when they are thousands of kilometres away? I’m sure there’s a particular activity or song you’ve found they really like doing that can be presented as a reward, and simple gestures such as a thumbs up, round of applause or even a digital fireworks show if you’re good with effects programs such as ManyCam can go a long way towards making your students feel rewarded.

Conclusion

All of the above will help you to create an online classroom environment for kindergarten groups that will be as engaging as it is dynamic.  Keep your demeanour friendly and your activities varied and you’ll find that your group lessons will be thoroughly rewarding for both you and your students.

In short, encourage your students to be loud and express themselves, always have a couple of quick discipline tricks up your sleeve, and add as much movement or action to your class as you can to keep engagement levels sky-high.

Written by Mark Hemming for Teflnet November 2021
Mark Hemming has spent most of the last decade teaching ESL to adults and children in Moscow, Russia and also runs Libra Translation in Liverpool, UK.
© Teflnet

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