If you’re new to teaching Pre-Primary and you are struggling, then this post is for you!

Hi there! I’m Claire and I’ve been teaching English to Pre-Primary learners for a very long time now.

These days, my lessons flow beautifully but it wasn’t always this way. Not at all!

I remember feeling so frustrated when they children didn’t cooperate when I needed them to. Sometimes it felt like chaos in the classroom! I wasn’t sure how to teach in English when they literally didn’t understand a single word I was saying.

Children crying.

Feeling exhausted and hopeless.

Who said teaching little children was easy?!

So if you’re struggling with your 3-5 year olds, you’re not alone. Teaching this age group is not like teaching older learners. It requires a very special set of skills and strategies that you need to learn.

The good news is that when you get it right, it can be some of the most fulfilling work you’ll ever do. Today, I wouldn’t want to work with any other age.


Here are 4 important lessons I’ve learned over my 20 years in the classroom that may be useful in helping you to get things on track.

  1. I used to jump in on the first day and try to teach them new words and structures. Now I know it’s essential to make emotional connections with each child before worrying about the curriculum. As they say “kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

    What have you done to build a relationship with each child in your class beyond learn their names?
  2. I had never even heard of a visual schedule in my early day. Now it’s an essential resource I use to help make sure everyone knows what is happening that day. It lowers the anxiety that many children feel when they don’t understand what you’re saying or what’s expected of them.

    Have you incorporated this into your lesson routine yet?
  3. I would always plan the activities but not think about how I would transition between them. And this was a rookie mistake! So much time was wasted getting everyone to change activities. Now I have a range of songs, chants and procedures to make these transitions smooth.

    What about you?

Now, here comes the most important one!

4. You absolutely MUST establish a predictable lesson routine!

Not having a predictable routine and procedures that children understand is the #1 reason why those teaching 3-5 year olds struggle.

Have you got routines and procedures established?

As you can imagine, there are so many other things that have helped me develop as a teacher but for me, these 4 are a great place for you to start. I hope this has been helpful to you!

Download a visual schedule – free

While you’re here, did you know we have a FREE VISUAL SCHEDULE that you can download for free an use with your students?

Sign up for our community emails and I’ll send it to you now! 🙂

Not only if you are teaching 3-5 year olds, but any level.


  • Claire Venables is a qualified English teacher who has been dedicated to ELT since 2001. After a decade in Spain, she moved to Brazil in 2011 where she has worked in the creation and implementation of bilingual programs in schools, the development of teacher development courses, as a national and international speaker, materials writer, active member of the National Association of Teachers of English (BRAZ-TESOL). Despite her wide-ranging experience, she is and always will be most passionate about teaching children.