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10 Profound Benefits of Small Class Sizes in Kindergarten
With floods of great teachers leaving the profession, it’s time for change! There are many factors to discuss, but today I am advocating for the transformative power of small class sizes.
In this blog post, I will share my personal experiences and shed light on ten significant benefits that small class sizes bring to the kindergarten environment.
From individualized attention to improved classroom dynamics, these advantages demonstrate how reducing class sizes can create a more nurturing, effective, and fulfilling learning experience for both teachers and students.
My Experience as a Kindergarten Teacher
As a kindergarten teacher for 17 years, I know first hand the struggles of having too many kids in a classroom.
I’ll admit, this is hard writing about the struggles. Why? Because I never want the blame to fall onto the teachers nor the children.
Yes; the children’s behaviors can be a significant challenge when trying to manage a classroom. However, those “terrible” behaviors are often a cry for help or attention – not a sign of poor classroom management.
Instead, my hope if for others to see how a large class size intensifies those behaviors and prevents teachers from doing their job effectively.
Another important factor when it comes managing behaviors – most of the behaviors are not properly addressed by administration. Now, their argument is out of my hands. I do not have experience as an administrator, but can only imagine the political pressure they are faced with to keep behavior reports under wrap.
During my nearly two decades of teaching, I had kindergarten classrooms ranging in size from 22-31 students.
Out of those students, it seemed as though half were labeled “emotional disturbed”, had an IEP or special needs, or were flagged immediately for severe behavior.
You may be wondering if I had a teachers aide? Yes and no. Let me explain…
For only a handful of years, I had a teachers aide in the classroom. Other years, our kindergarten team of 10 classrooms SHARED 1, yes one, teacher’s assistant. Most of the years we had no help – unless we had a couple parents show up and volunteer to help. Unfortunately, parent volunteerism wasn’t reliable in our district.
Having a large kindergarten class size is incredibly difficult.
Many of the children entered my kindergarten class without the basic skills nor understanding of how to follow rules.
This means it was up to me – one individual – to teach 30 little ones what it means to stand in line, how to wait your turn, how to hold a pencil, how to open/close their bookbags, how to sit in your area without touching others, and the list goes on and on.
While working on these basic skills, I was also required to have a positive classroom environment, maintain excellent classroom management, make sure all 30 kids were meeting state learning standards, assess each kid individually on a weekly basis, attend meetings, build strong parent-teacher communication, meet all IEP needs, set timers, give positive reinforcements, check folders, grade the kids’ work, plan for lessons, cut out, prep, and set up for multiple “fun activities” every single day, teach hallway behavior, monitor bathroom behaviors, attend recess duty, have morning door duty to greet all kids that enter the school, promptly arrive to bus duty, and the list goes on and on.
How in the world can one teacher handle all of these responsibilities in one day when they are busy trying to EDUCATE 30 children?
Make it make sense! Although many of us teachers spoke up for change, it fell upon the deaf ears of our school system.
Now that I am out of the classroom, I feel it is my job to advocate for change. Change for the teachers and change for the kids.
For teachers to effectively educate and support kids in all areas of early childhood development, they need MUCH smaller class sizes.
Let’s take a closer look at 10 profound benefits of small class sizes in kindergarten.
Benefits of Small Class Sizes in Kindergarten
When I think of the “right size” kindergarten classroom, I think of no more than 15 children. Here is why a smaller classroom helps both the teachers and the kids:
Enhanced Individualized Instruction
Smaller class sizes allow for more individualized instruction, enabling teachers to cater to the unique learning needs of each child. There is a research article by Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff (2011) that examines the positive impact of smaller class sizes on student achievement.
In other words, teachers will be more likely to provide tailored instruction accordingly with less kids in the classroom.
Increased Teacher-Student Interaction
Small class sizes allow teachers to establish stronger relationships with their students. This heightened interaction promotes trust, effective communication, and a deeper understanding of each child’s strengths, challenges, and interests.
Improved Behavior Management
Managing behavior in a large kindergarten class can be very overwhelming. However, smaller class sizes facilitate better behavior management, as teachers can establish clear expectations, offer immediate feedback, and address issues more efficiently.
Enhanced Collaboration Opportunities
With a reduced number of students, cooperative learning and group activities become more feasible. Small class sizes foster a collaborative spirit among students, promoting teamwork, communication, and the development of essential social skills.
Customized Learning Experiences
Small class sizes allow teachers to tailor their lessons and activities to meet the diverse needs and interests of their students. This flexibility enables educators to create engaging and meaningful learning experiences that cater to individual strengths and preferences.
Increased Participation and Engagement
In smaller classes, students are more likely to actively participate in class discussions, ask questions, and engage in hands-on activities. The intimate learning environment encourages students to express their thoughts, fostering a sense of ownership and enthusiasm for learning.
Greater Focus on Social-Emotional Development
Kindergarten is a critical time for the social and emotional development of young learners. With small class sizes, teachers can devote more time to cultivating important skills such as empathy, self-regulation, and conflict resolution, fostering a positive classroom climate.
The study by Mashburn et al. (2008) discusses the relationship between smaller class sizes and positive social-emotional development in kindergarten-aged kids.
Improved Teacher Well-being
Overwhelmed teachers can experience burnout, which ultimately impacts their ability to effectively educate students. By reducing class sizes, teachers can manage their workload more efficiently, resulting in improved job satisfaction and overall well-being.
Increased Parent-Teacher Collaboration
Small class sizes facilitate stronger connections between teachers and parents. With fewer students to attend to, teachers can devote more time to regular communication, parent-teacher conferences, and individualized feedback, fostering a collaborative partnership in a child’s education.
Long-Term Academic Success
Research consistently demonstrates that students in small class settings tend to outperform their peers academically. The personalized attention, tailored instruction, and positive classroom dynamics that come with smaller class sizes create a solid foundation for long-term academic success.
To find research articles related to the benefits of small class sizes in early childhood education, I recommend utilizing academic databases such as JSTOR, Google Scholar, or ERIC.
From personalized instruction to improved teacher-student relationships, reduced behavior management challenges, and enhanced collaboration opportunities, small class sizes in kindergarten offer a myriad of benefits.
As a former teacher who experienced the overwhelming demands of large class sizes, I firmly believe that advocating for smaller class sizes can lead to a more positive and effective educational experience for both teachers and students.
By prioritizing smaller class sizes, we can create nurturing environments that empower educators and foster the optimal growth and development of young learners.
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