How to Tutor Preschool and Kindergarten Students

By Gregory Bertsch, M. Ed.

Posted: October 3, 2023

tutor preschool and kindergarten students

The wonder and rapid learning in a child’s earliest years is truly magical. As preschoolers explore the world around them, their brains light up, making connections and building foundations for the future. The texture of sand running through little fingers, the sounds of pots and pans crashing together—everything is a discovery bursting with potential.

At this stage, play IS learning. Whether they’re tasting the sweetness of an apple, watching fireworks overhead, or feeling cold water on their toes, preschoolers use all their senses to interact with their environment.

Tutoring preschool is never boring when you get to experience learning through the eyes of a child. Read on if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to teach these eager young minds.

How Do Preschools and Kindergarten Students Learn?

Preschool and kindergarten students, typically aged 3 to 6 years old, engage in a critical phase of their educational journey. Understanding how they learn involves recognizing their developmental stages and the cognitive, emotional, and physical characteristics that shape their learning experiences.

Developmental Stages of Preschool and Kindergarten Children

Preschool and kindergarten children undergo distinct developmental stages that significantly influence their learning experiences:

  • Early Childhood (Ages 3-4): During this stage, children are in the early years of their educational journey. They often display high levels of curiosity and begin to develop basic motor skills. Their attention spans are limited, so learning activities should be short, engaging, and focused on exploration. Play-based learning, such as building with blocks and finger painting, is highly effective in this phase.
  • Pre-Kindergarten (Ages 4-5): As children enter pre-kindergarten, their cognitive abilities expand. They start to understand basic concepts like numbers, colors, and shapes. Their social skills develop, making it an ideal time for group activities and cooperative play. Storytelling, interactive games, and simple puzzles are valuable tools for enhancing cognitive growth.
  • Kindergarten (Ages 5-6): In kindergarten, children experience a significant leap in their cognitive development. They begin to read, write, and perform basic arithmetic. Their fine and gross motor skills have improved, allowing them to engage in more complex activities. Structured lessons, interactive projects, and early literacy initiatives are essential for fostering cognitive growth.

Cognitive, Emotional, and Physical Characteristics of Preschoolers and Kindergartners

Preschool and kindergarten students exhibit distinct developmental stages and cognitive, emotional, and physical characteristics that shape their learning experiences.

Preschool and kindergarten children have inquisitive minds and learn through exploration. They are highly receptive to visual aids, hands-on experiences, and repetition. Their cognitive development benefits from a balance of structured learning and play-based activities, as they tend to learn best through active engagement.

Emotionally, children in this age group can be sensitive and may experience a wide range of emotions. They are learning to manage their feelings and express themselves. Teachers and caregivers should create a nurturing and supportive environment where children feel safe to communicate their emotions, fostering emotional development.

Fine and gross motor skills vary among children at this stage. They may have varying levels of physical energy, so incorporating movement breaks into the daily routine can help maintain their focus. Activities that involve coloring, cutting, building, and physical play are valuable for enhancing their physical development.

Socially, preschool and kindergarten children are eager to form connections and friendships with their peers. They may display sharing and cooperation tendencies while still learning social norms. Encouraging positive social interactions through group activities, collaborative projects, and guided playdates is essential for their social development.

Recognizing and accommodating these unique traits is pivotal for educators and caregivers to provide effective, tailored learning environments that support their growth and development during these formative years.

Practical Ideas to Tutor Preschool and Kindergarten Students

Setting the right environment

Creating the right environment for tutoring preschool and kindergarten students is a crucial step in facilitating their growth and development. This nurturing and positive space can make a world of difference in their learning journey.

First and foremost, it’s essential to provide a safe and nurturing space for young learners. This environment should be free from distractions and hazards, allowing children to focus on their learning without worries. A sense of security and trust is vital for building a strong foundation for their educational journey. When children feel safe, they are more likely to explore, experiment, and express themselves freely, which are all critical aspects of early learning.

To foster a positive learning environment, organization is key. Arrange educational materials, books, and resources in an accessible and visually appealing manner. Keep supplies well-stocked and age-appropriate. Use colorful and engaging visuals to decorate the space, making it inviting and stimulating. Consider incorporating a cozy reading corner with cushions and a variety of books to encourage reading and exploration. By creating an environment that piques their curiosity, you ignite their natural desire to learn and discover.

Preschool and kindergarten students benefit from a balance between structured and unstructured time. While structured lessons are essential for teaching specific skills and concepts, unstructured time allows for creativity and exploration. Provide a schedule that incorporates both elements. Structured activities can include focused learning sessions, while unstructured time can be dedicated to free play and exploration. This balance ensures that children have opportunities to learn, practice, and apply their knowledge while still enjoying the freedom to imagine and play.

Engaging and interactive methods

Engaging and interactive methods are the heart and soul of effective tutoring for preschool and kindergarten students. These young learners thrive on active participation and hands-on experiences. Allowing mistakes to happen as a natural part of the learning process is critical at this stage. Children need to be comfortable, not always being successful. Self-esteem plays a big role in learning. When children are not afraid to make mistakes, they will take risks and try new tools to learn.

Stories are powerful tools for engaging young minds. Incorporating narratives into your tutoring sessions can captivate their imagination and promote language development. Choose age-appropriate books with colorful illustrations and compelling stories. Reading aloud allows children to explore new worlds, characters, and ideas. Encourage them to ask questions, share their thoughts, and even create their own stories. By weaving storytelling into your lessons, you foster a love for reading and storytelling that will serve them well throughout their educational journey.

Play is the natural language of preschool and kindergarten students. Incorporate play-based learning into your sessions to make learning fun and meaningful. Use educational toys, building blocks, puzzles, and art materials to encourage creativity and problem-solving. Engage in role-play activities to explore real-world scenarios, fostering social and emotional development. Through play, children can grasp abstract concepts, enhance their motor skills, and develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Young learners often benefit from engaging multiple senses simultaneously. Multi-sensory learning experiences stimulate their cognitive development and help them retain information effectively. Use props, visuals, and tactile materials to reinforce lessons. For example, when teaching about shapes, you can provide geometric shapes they can touch and manipulate. When exploring science concepts, conduct simple experiments that involve touch, sight, and sound. Engaging their senses in this way creates a holistic understanding of the subject matter and fosters a sense of curiosity.

Tools and resources for young learners

Investing in the right tools and resources for preschool and kindergarten students is a wonderful way to enrich their learning experience and foster their development.

Choosing the right books, games, and apps is essential for young learners. Opt for age-appropriate books filled with vibrant illustrations and engaging stories. Picture books that encourage interaction, such as lift-the-flap or touch-and-feel books, can be especially captivating. Games that promote problem-solving, cooperation, and creativity are ideal. Look for educational apps that offer interactive and stimulating content, reinforcing essential skills like counting, letter recognition, and early math concepts. These resources not only make learning enjoyable but also help children develop crucial cognitive and social skills.

Physical tools play a vital role in hands-on learning. Flashcards with colorful images and words can aid in vocabulary and sight word recognition. Manipulatives like counting bears, building blocks, and puzzles allow children to explore math and spatial concepts in a tangible way. Art supplies such as crayons, markers, and clay encourage creativity and fine motor skill development. Providing access to these tools allows children to actively engage with the learning process, turning abstract ideas into concrete understanding.

Music and movement are powerful tools for engaging young learners. Incorporate songs and rhymes into your lessons to reinforce language skills and enhance memory. Use music to create a positive and inviting atmosphere in the learning environment. Movement activities, such as dancing, stretching, and physical games, not only promote physical development but also aid in the retention of information. For example, using movement to demonstrate math concepts like addition or subtraction can make learning more enjoyable and memorable. Creating dynamic exercises for alphabet letters, like H h high knees, will reinforce letter and sound recognition.

Handling challenges

Handling challenges when tutoring preschool and kindergarten students is a vital aspect of nurturing their growth and fostering a positive learning experience.

It’s natural for preschool and kindergarten students to have shorter attention spans. To address this challenge, it’s crucial to design lessons that are age-appropriate in terms of duration and content. Keep lessons brief and engaging, with frequent breaks to allow them to refocus. Incorporate interactive and hands-on activities that capture their interest. Encourage active participation through questions, discussions, and movement. By adapting your teaching approach to accommodate their attention spans, you create a supportive environment where they can stay engaged and eager to learn.

Young learners often experience a wide range of emotions and may struggle to manage their feelings. As a tutor, you can play a vital role in helping them navigate these emotional challenges. Create an open and nurturing space where they feel comfortable expressing their emotions. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and experiences. Teach them simple emotional regulation techniques, such as deep breathing or taking short breaks when they feel overwhelmed. By acknowledging and validating their emotions, you help them build emotional intelligence and resilience.

In the course of tutoring, you may encounter situations that require discipline and guidance. It’s important to approach these moments with gentleness and understanding. Use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior and efforts. Set clear and consistent boundaries, explaining the reasons behind them in simple terms. Redirect their attention or behavior when necessary rather than using punitive measures. Foster a sense of responsibility by involving them in decision-making and problem-solving. By using these gentle and supportive techniques, you create a learning environment based on trust and respect.

Collaborating with parents and caregivers

Collaborating with parents and caregivers is a wonderful way to enhance the educational journey of preschool and kindergarten students. This collaborative effort fosters a sense of unity and support for the child’s development.

Open and consistent communication with parents and caregivers is essential for a child’s progress. Regularly share feedback on the child’s academic and social development. Highlight their achievements, both big and small, to celebrate their growth. Address any challenges or concerns with empathy and constructive solutions. By keeping parents and caregivers informed, you create a sense of trust and partnership, ensuring that everyone is working together to support the child’s learning journey.

Encourage parents and caregivers to be actively involved in their child’s education by providing resources and activities for reinforcement at home. Share recommended reading lists, educational apps, and interactive games that align with the curriculum. Suggest age-appropriate activities that can complement the child’s learning experience. By empowering families with these tools, you extend the learning beyond the tutoring sessions and create a strong foundation for continued growth at home.

Collaboration between educators, parents, and caregivers creates a supportive team focused on the child’s well-being and development. Foster a sense of inclusion by inviting parents to participate in discussions about the child’s goals and progress. Encourage open dialogue and the sharing of insights and observations. When all stakeholders work together as a cohesive team, the child benefits from a consistent and holistic approach to their education and personal growth.

Monitoring progress and adjusting methods

Monitoring progress and adjusting teaching methods are fundamental aspects of providing effective and personalized tutoring for preschool and kindergarten students. This approach ensures that the child’s learning journey is both nurturing and productive.

Every step of a child’s learning journey is worth celebrating. Recognizing and celebrating small milestones is an essential part of keeping the child motivated and enthusiastic about their progress. Whether it’s mastering a new letter, solving a simple math problem, or successfully completing a creative project, taking the time to acknowledge these achievements boosts their confidence and self-esteem. By nurturing their sense of accomplishment, you create a positive learning environment where they feel valued and empowered.

Assessment is a valuable tool for tracking a child’s progress, but it should be done in a non-invasive and age-appropriate manner. Use informal methods such as observations, conversations, and checklists to gather insights into the child’s development. These non-invasive assessment tools provide valuable information without creating stress or pressure. Regularly assess the child’s understanding and skills to identify areas that may need additional attention or adjustment in your teaching approach.

Every child is unique and progresses at their own pace. Adapting and evolving your teaching methods based on the child’s needs is a nurturing and effective approach. If you notice that a particular method is not resonating with the child, be flexible and try different approaches. Tailor your lessons to align with their interests, strengths, and areas of improvement. Continuously assess their progress and adjust your teaching strategies accordingly. This flexibility ensures that the child receives the support and guidance they require for optimal learning.


The preschool and kindergarten years represent a magical stage of development and learning for children. As a tutor, you have the special opportunity to nurture their natural curiosity, guide their growth, and lay a strong foundation for the rest of their educational journey.

Approaching this role with patience, creativity, and care will allow you to make a profound impact at this formative stage. You can foster their academic, social, and emotional growth by providing a safe, engaging environment, using interactive teaching methods, collaborating with families, and continuously tailoring your approach to meet each child’s needs.

With the right guidance, even the youngest students can flourish and approach the fantastic learning adventure with confidence and joy.