Ever had all your students writing as you were assessing a child or having a writing conference with a student and every time you look up there is another child standing at your table looking at you? Yes. We’ve all been there. The child that is very dependent on you and can’t seem to grasp when it’s not an okay time to be up trying to ask you a question. Where is all the independent students? Well, you have to teach them. Kindergarten writing independence can be tough, but these ideas will help.
First things first…
As a kindergarten teacher, there are some things you have to do before you can actually thrive in the classroom. One of them is teaching routines and procedures. Repeatedly. Until you’re tired of doing it. And then do it some more.
Are you still with me? Because if you’ve been teaching for any amount of time or even if you’re a brand new teacher, you will know this to be true about five and six year olds – you have to repeat yourself many many times. Now, we want our students to work independently until they actually need us. So the very first thing that must be done to make sure your students are independent little humans is to let them know that they do not need you to do most things in the classroom.
Our classroom is setup in a way where everything they need or may need during writing is within their reach. They either already have it in their possession or it’s out in the open where they have access to it. I take one day and we practice what to do if we need something that they do not already have. A tissue for instance. Would you get up and come to Ms. Brown if you have sneezed and need a tissue? No. We role play this out and I show them what to do, how to do it, and then I head back to my writing spot and continue writing. We do this for all things. It only takes a few minutes, but as we practice, they realize they can be as independent as they want to be. And I applaud them.
Create inventive spellers
During writing time, the number one thing that most teachers probably hear is, “How do you spell…” two million times. Nope. Do not allow it. When I first started teaching, I made the mistake of spelling things for my little learners. I quickly realized how huge a mistake this was. Once I did it and everyone heard me, they all wanted me to spell things. Like I was a spelling machine or something. It was horrible. *kidding*
However, once we spell things for our students, this creates that dependency that we do not want. Now, I ask them what sounds do they hear and encourage them to write those sounds. I do not spell anything for them. This allows them to build confidence in their writing. I also tell my parents this. A lot of parents do not know what inventive spelling is and it is our job to let them know. They will also need to reinforce this behavior at home so our little writers will be proud of the things they have written.
I help them spell without spelling it for them. I created themed word lists and put them on a ring. You can check them out here. During whole group, I introduce a ring and read all the words that are on the new word list. And I add it to a ring. We have multiple word rings in the classroom. If a student needs to spell something that is on one of those lists, they get up and grab a ring. This helps me by not having to spell something for them. It also allows them to use our word wall which is portable. I also put the student’s names and pictures on rings in case they want to spell a friend’s name.
Want to try a set of words? Click here.
Save your sanity
Now that your students are well on their way to having kindergarten independence while they write, you can save your sanity. This time can be used to pull students one-on-one if needed. I assess students. I conference with students about their writing. Whatever it is that I need to do with a child one-on-one, I usually get it done during our writing time. Let’s face it. There are times when you don’t need the entire small group staring at you when you just want to practice with one child. This is a great time to do this.
Want to see how I set up my writing center? Check out this post.
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