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Centers/ Differentiation



How do you differentiate your instruction in kindergarten? Please help I need ideas. Also, how do you do centers in kindergarten? I have seen them done so many ways but I still feel I need more ideas. Also, I have 26 kindergartners and I have an aide. She is driving me crazy. She wants things done her way. She has been there for 10 years but I want to do things my own way. It works for me but not for her. I am the teacher! I should be able to do things the way I feel comfortable with right? Please respond I need help desperately. I feel so incompetent around her and really I think things are running smoothly. She is so used to the way the last two kindergarten teachers have done things that she thinks I need to do it the way they do.

Thank you,

busy bee

New Member
difficult one

When I started teaching Kindergarten there was a teaching assistant who was assistanting for already 3 years. She knew the routines etc etc. and found my ways of teaching difficult to adapt too (teacher before me had kinder for the past 18!!!! years??!!??). At first she gave me a hard time, but when I asked her to meet with me after school to talk about what we were going to do from that point onwards, she explained that she was sooooo used to doing it her way, that she couldn't cope with the change (old lady). This really helped me understand her, she meant it sooooo well. I explained why I wanted/did certain things, and told her that it has a reason, It all worked out great!
I plan my lessons for her to work with small groups of children (my way) and explain why I want things done that way. You know why you want to teach a certain way or say certain things to your children, she should accept this, indeed you are the person with the end responsibility for your class and the teaching background (I really don't mean this in a rude way).

Don't get me wrong, I now have a different assistant (she is great too) and half the time I wouldn't know what to do without her. The children get more attention, more experiences and the class looks tidier, the bulletin boards look lovelier than ever etc etc!!! Otherwise I would have to do these things after school as well!

Hope you can have a talk with her, good luck!!



In my first year of teaching, I had an aide who had been doing it for almost 30 years! She was great--I learned more from her than I had in some of my credentialing class. She wasn't pushy like it sounds your aide is, but I'll bet that if you met with her after school and really talked with her, she might have some ideas or shortcuts that you had never thought of. Of course, how you do things is ultimately up to you, but I would advise you to try to have an open mind. When Barbara retired at the end of my third year, I was really sad. I had an aide from he** the next year, and now have had a really great aide for the last 3 years.

As for centers, I have tried all sorts of things. I am trying a new system this year and it looks like this ( you'll need lots of parent volunteers for it to work!)

Mondays 8:40-10 Fine Motor Centers (four 20-minute rotations doing things like cutting, working with beading/lacing, letter formation, playdough, etc.)

Tuesdays 8:40-9:10 Math Centers (We all do the same thing with manipulatives, but in small groups)

Wednesdays and Fridays 8:40-9:10 Workshop (2 groups do a craft, 2 groups do Children's Own Stories on Wednesday, then the groups switch on Fridays)

Thursdays: 8:40-9:10 Writing Centers (We all work on making books or writing in journals, some type of writing activity in small groups)

Hope this is helpful. Good luck! :o)

K/1 Teacher

Full Member

I do work centers AKA choice time. Students can choose from 8 permanent centers. 4 children can go to each one. They are: art/writing, games, puzzles, blocks, listening, make believe, reading, math. I model and make suggestions on how to use the centers but there is never anything expected for them to do, they are free to explore. There is a lot of learning that happens every day, and not a lot of work for me to prep anything. I also do literacy centers occasionally, at a seperate time.


Senior Member
That is a tough situation with the aide, my second year teaching I was assigned a grade one class in Feb. the aide that was witht eh class since Spetember, often overstepped and tried to start things without my permission, once I was in the hall talking to a parent during silent reading in the morning and when I came back in she had a few names on the board and stickers on the other kids hands-and was telling them she would be doing this everyday!!!! I talked with her several times, and each time seemed to work for a few weeks, it was very difficult, hopefully you situation is better then mine.

Centers, I am trying something new this year so I am not sure how it will work yet, but during my literacy block I will have several centers on the go as well as my guided reading. small group instruction group (whatever is needed at that time for that group of students). I have picture cards of each center as well as the childrens names all on magnets. When I start out I will introduce each of the simple sentences and model how to do them and what my expectations are then reinforce this during. I will not have a set number of centers each week and all children may not do each center in a week some may take less time to rotate the students through and some may take more depending on the number of students doing a center, I will keep track on a checklist of who has done which center. If a center is too simple for some children they will not do it (unless of course they really want to) and if one is too hard for some and they are not ready for it they won't do it. As I need new centers I will intorduce them. I hope this is not too confusing.

I think this will work well because then not all students do each center, if a child is missing he isn't behind the rest of his group, I can change the groups daily, different centers can have different numbers of students, and a snow day won't mess up my whole week- it seems much more flexible.



I highly suggest the book Literacy Work Stations by Debbie Diller. It's full of excellent ways to do centers. I used to do centers with a "product" coming from each center, but it was a ton of work. Now, I'm doing them the way the book says and it's running so smoothly and is sooo easy to differentiate. Basically, you have a big book center, a technology center, a library, an ABC/Word Study center, a writing center, and a poetry center. I'm sure there are more, but I'm slowly implementing them, so I only have a few going right now. You set them up and add to them weekly/daily based upon what you do as a whole group lesson. Then, you have time to work with small groups while your kids do centers. If you have other questions, please email me at mason15 at boardermail dot com. My Kinder team LOVES doing centers this way!!



PS...I also have LOTS of other "centers" like blocks, puzzles, etc. These are literacy centers, but you could EASILY add math and science to the rotation. I don't have an aide at all, so I can't help there!