What happens in kindergarten?


Watch this short video with your child to get a quick look at a typical day in kindergarten. After you’ve had a peek at what a typical day looks like, we’ll talk more about what happens during the day.

A typical day in kindergarten

So now that you’ve had a peek at what a typical day in kindergarten looks like, let’s talk more about what happens during the day.

If your child is in preschool, perhaps the teacher has talked about a typical day in kindergarten and maybe even practiced some of the routines with the children – like walking in line; sharing ideas in a group; or writing at desks, etc. If not, you can talk with your child about the school day and routines and make a game of practicing these new routines at home.

Beginning of the Day

Generally, when you drop off your child, the two of you will be greeted by the teacher. As families leave, the children put their belongings away and wash their hands. Then they may sit at a table or on the floor to do an individual or small group activity as the rest of their new friends arrive.

Then there may be a morning meeting or morning circle where the children greet each other; talk about who’s there and who isn’t, the day of the week, the weather, and their plans for the day; sing some songs; and maybe enjoy a story.

After the meeting or circle, the children will alternate throughout the day with individual, small, and large group activities; independent or teacher-led activities; daily activities like lunch, recess, and bathroom routines; and weekly activities like art, music, and gym.

Lunch, Recess, Art, Music, & Gym

Activities like lunch, recess, art, music, and gym are scheduled by the school to fit all these activities in for all the children. Classroom activities are scheduled by the teacher based on the needs of the children as they move through their day.


You may hear teachers talk about transitions. Young children sometimes have trouble moving smoothly from one activity to another – they have trouble transitioning. The teacher gives these transitions a lot of thought. Transitions are kept to a minimum and carefully managed to support the children.

Understanding that young children sometimes have trouble transitioning can come in handy at home too!

The teacher plans around the children’s alternating need to be active and their need to be quiet and participate in calming activities. The room is arranged to make it easy for the children to move around the classroom independently and in an orderly fashion. The children will be able to make lots of choices during the day and to problem-solve with their friends and teachers about the challenges that come up on any given day.

Different Than Preschool

If your child has been in preschool, you will see certain differences in kindergarten. The children tend to sit at tables or desks more often than on the floor. While play-based learning is still an important strategy in kindergarten, you will see more structured learning in most kindergarten classrooms. Generally, kindergarteners don’t nap though a rest time may be offered. Children are expected to line-up for lunch, restroom breaks, and recess, etc. and walk through the halls in a quiet and orderly fashion.

End of the Day

As the children leave with their families at the end of their school day, the teachers will try to share with families the high points of the day.

If your child rides the bus, you won’t have the daily opportunity to chat with the teacher or meet other parents and their children, but there will be other opportunities – or you can create them.


First and foremost, think about how you will want to communicate with the teacher about your child’s kindergarten experience.

Some teachers may keep families up-to-date via newsletters or with classroom websites where they update the site weekly, upload photos to it, and communicate with parents via a “comments” section. But in the age of tweets and mobile status updates, many have switched to free, location-based social media apps that families can download to their computers, tablets, or phones. Families get real-time updates and can give feedback instantly. They see what’s happening on a daily basis instead of having to wait for weekly newsletters or web site updates. Your child’s teacher will let you know about opportunities like these.

But you can also let your teacher know your preferences for back and forth communication about your child. Perhaps texting is easiest for you or email or phone calls. Indicate that you want to stay in touch, given you won’t be seeing each other on a daily basis, and tell the teacher what works best for you.

Meeting Other Families

As for opportunities to meet other families and their children, watch for notification of beginning of the year open houses and other school events as well as opportunities to serve on classroom or school committees where you can have a voice in decisions that affect your child. If by planning ahead, you can get off from work, talk to your child’s teacher about volunteering in the classroom or helping out on field trips. If you have hobbies or skills that might be of interest in the classroom, let your child’s teacher know that you’re available. If you just can’t get to school for evening events or get time off from work to schedule time at school during the day, let your teacher know, so you can explore together creative ways for you to partner with your teacher and your school to support your child’s learning and development.

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