Title: 4 Easy Ways To Build Relationships with Kindergarten and First Grade Students

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4 Easy Ways to Build Relationships with Kindergarten Students


Building relationships with students is the cornerstone to good classroom management.  But how do you develop strong relationships with 5-year-olds? Here are 4 easy ways to build relationships with kindergarten students.

Happy Classrooms

Having excellent classroom management is essential for a happy classroom.  

It means the difference between skipping out the door at the end of the day and hiding in the bathroom, afraid to go back to class. 

(And I’m not just talking about the students… Truth, I’ve had my teacher moments in the bathroom.)

Fake Or Friend?

You know, in your heart that building relationships with your students is essential. You also think it’s going to take a lot of time and effort. You might even tell yourself that you don’t have time or (let me put this gently) you don’t really care about your student’s lives. (okay, I didn’t put it gently, but there it is.) 

Not BFFs, So Much More

I’m not saying you have to be their best buddy. I am saying you have to genuinely care for them and seek to know them and nurture them. You can’t fake it.  

Here’s some truth. Your students are going to know if you really love them or not. 

Teaching requires students to do things they don’t want to do. It’s hard to learn and stretch and grow. 

When a teacher you love asks you to do something “hard,” you do it.

 When a teacher who doesn’t give a rip about you asks you to do something “hard”… well, there’s going to be some crying in both the teacher bathroom and in the student stalls. 

How Do I Build Relationships With 5-Year-Olds?

Let’s get practical. How do to foster strong relationships with 5-year-olds? 

Here’s for ways to build REAL Relationships with your little scholars. It’s easier than you think.

The Word "Relentless" as graphic


When we are building relationships with kids, we need to do it constantly and consistently. We have to be keen observers of our students.

 Answer these questions for each of your students. What do they like? What do they dislike? How do they like to learn? Are you easygoing or require a plan? What’s important to them? 

Once you know the answers, now is the time to go to work and be relentless in your quest to dive deeper into their lives. 

Sure they like playing Minecraft. What do they like about it? Who plays it with them? Did they get a backpack that is a Minecraft Creeper because they like creepers?  

All these conversations require time, but mostly they require relentless persistence on your part. 

Some days you are going to do more relationship building then you are teaching content. That’s okay. 

Graphic "Engaging"


Your students are not adults. They’re 5. Because they’re 5 they need to be listened to and talked to like a 5-year-old. Now I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I don’t do “baby” talk or “dumb-down” my vocabulary when I talk with students. Instead, I engage with them so they know I see them, and they know I am connecting with them emotionally.

3 Keys To Engagement

When you are engaging with a student, do 3 things: 1) Look them in the eye (even if another student comes over and interrupts… ESPECIALLY if another student comes over and interrupts), 2) Get down on their level so that you’re not so big and adult-like. 3) Ask them questions about what they are saying or repeat back to them what you are hearing from them as a way to validate what they are saying.  

I am also a fan of holding a hand or patting a back. I always accept hugs, fist bumps, and gentle high fives from my students. Physical contact is important in developing bonds and is a big part of effective engagement strategies.  

Yep, they are going to yammer on. You are going to have to cut them off. That’s one of the reasons you are on their level and holding their hand or patting them on the back. You are going to break away and say gently. “Honey, I’m going to have to hear the rest of this later. You have so many good ideas. “Then you raise to your adult height, let go of their hand and continue on.

Graphic "Authentic"


Here’s where you are going to give a little bit of yourself away to your students. You are going to let them have a glimpse into your life. Again, you are not building BFFs here, but you are showing your students a little bit of you. Tell them what makes you happy and sad. What you are worried about (within reason) what you are excited about.  

When you share a bit about yourself with your students, they see you as a friend. They will defend you, help you, laugh and cry with you and you with them. It’s pretty amazing.  

Graphic "Loving"


There’s a reason an ancient book of wisdom put love as the “greatest.” When we love our students, they know that we want the best for them. They know we are working hard for them, and they are working hard for themselves and us. Love means doing hard things and having hard conversations. Love pulls us to our limit while reminding us that we are enough just as we are. 

Many times when students aren’t at their best, we need to have tough conversations. It’s in those times we can remind them of our love for them, and “If I didn’t love you so much, I wouldn’t even be having this conversation with you. You are amazing, and I know that we can get through this and be even more amazing on the other side of this difficulty.”  


Building relationships with students is the cornerstone of excellent classroom management. Plus, it’s one of the best things about spending time with these tiny humans. Use the acronym “REAL” to assist in building strong relationships with your students.  

Your Turn:

Comment below and tell your best tip for building REAL relationships with your students.

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Angie K

Angie K

I love to help teachers create an amazing teacher life.
I've taught for 25+ years and I want to help you find joy and energy in each day.

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