Working With Different Age Groups As A Substitute Teacher

If you are substituting in a preschool classroom…

  • Typically you will stay in the same classroom and/or playground area the entire day for all activities.
  • For the most part, preschoolers follow directions. If not, they are often responsive to the method of counting to three.
  • Preschoolers understand contrast, such as small and smaller and simple time concepts. They can typically repeat sentences as long as nine words and talk about activities as they participate.
  • Preschoolers feel pride in their accomplishments, understand concepts of right and wrong, and can accept responsibility.
  • Preschoolers want to please the teacher and respond to simple do’s and don’ts that are imposed by authority.
  • As their speech becomes more social and less egocentric, they begin to prefer to play and compete with other children.
  • They will participate in organized games but may believe that rules can be changed.

If you are substituting in an elementary classroom…

  • Elementary school age groups will have a full range of curriculum or content.
  • You will most likely be teaching math, reading, science, and social studies to this age group.
  • Elementary-age students are able to understand concrete operations and reversibility in math, such as 3+4 = 7 and 7-4 = 3.
  • They have an increasing ability to think and learn abstractly.
  • They are interested in how things work and how things are put together and have lots of ideas that they like to explain.
  • They begin to relate more to the subject matter rather than to the teacher as they actively receive factual information.
  • They like logic, organization, and memorization. Elementary school students need structure and like expected activities.
  • They need guidance as they develop ideas, opinions, and attitudes and can be sensitive to comments from others.
  • Socially, elementary students relate to their peers and can usually move easily from free play to interactions that require teamwork.
  • They are better able to sit quietly and listen during classroom instruction.
  • The beginning stages of puberty are entered, and romantic relationships are mimicked.
  • They love to play and use physical activities to develop gross and fine motor skills.

Now that you have learned more about different aspects of the preschool and elementary school classrooms check out our blog section for the article on middle school and high school classrooms as well. To learn more, set up a product demonstration for the Virtual Substitute Training program to learn how your substitute teachers can be better prepared for the challenges of working with various age groups.