Tips for Teaching Infants
Here's some tips that we've learned which may help new and more experienced junior and senior infant teachers, especially during the first few weeks at school.
Learning new skills whether that be lining up, washing your hands (this could be a full lesson), putting on your coat or putting away your lunchbox all take time, especially for those who are out of practise. As a teacher it is important to remember this, especially at the beginning of the school year. Leave some extra time to allow for these tasks to occur and encourage children to do them by themselves. Yes it will be more time consuming at the start, however the children will develop these skills over time and as a result will become more independent in time.
I printed these images, laminated them and stuck them around the classroom so that the children are always being reminded to wash their hands thoroughly.
I know, it sounds silly but checking every child's books, folders and jumpers for their names now will save you time in the future. Who wants to be running around after a PE lesson with their arms filled with jumpers measuring up who may wear what size and hoping for the best? Not me! Sort this out now.
Create a visual timetable
Visual timetables can be useful for a variety of reasons.
It may take your class a while to realise that Aistear happens at the same time everyday or PE in the same slot every week. I've been teaching in the past and have seen a hand go up (hoping it's the answer to the question I've just asked) and the child has asked "Teacher, when are we doing Aistear?" or "Is it PE day?"
With a visual timetable they won't need to ask, they can see it for themselves.
This visual timetable was found on Twinkl at the above link and although you will need an account to download it you could create something similar yourself using coloured card.
I like to use photographs that I took of their books/ resources/ equipment/ areas around the school. You simply print these, laminate them so that they'll last the year, add some velcro to the pictures and the timetable and it's ready to go! Just remove the pictures from the timetable as the activity is completed.
Follow a timetable
This point goes hand in hand with having a visual timetable. By knowing exactly how much time per day you're spending on a certain activity it allows you to accurately plan your learning outcomes (LOs). Below is a sample that you could use to base your timetable around.
Also, through this you ensure that you've spent the designated amount of time per week (as per Dept. of Education & Skills guidelines) on each subject. Check out the table below to see exactly what is recommended.
Use their pictures
Infants may not know (or remember) how to read their names but they should recognise themselves and each other. Therefore using their pictures is a good way of helping them to differentiate their belongings (including where to hang their coats). Plaster their faces everywhere, they'll love it!