Learning Positional Words for Kindergarten Students

by Michele Cooper

    Kindergarten is a time for students to learn basic skills that they will build on throughout elementary school and beyond. Positional words help kindergarten-age students relate to where they are in the world around them and understand how objects relate to one another. They can be taught in a variety of subjects during kindergarten, including math, when learning about shapes, and language arts, when learning about grammar.

    Learning positional words is not inherently difficult for kindergarten students, as they use these words on a daily basis and may already know many of them prior to beginning kindergarten. However, they are important as children become more independent, begin to read and write and learn spatial relationships. Some common positional words and phrases learned in kindergarten are inside, on, under, next to, behind, over, above, middle and between.

    One way that kindergartners learn positional words is by relating the concept to themselves and their own bodies. When an adult asks a student whether his jacket is on top of the desk or under the desk, she is reinforcing the use of positional words. Playing hide-and-seek is one way that kindergarten-age students can use their bodies -- they can hide under a table, behind a curtain or next to the piano -- learning under, behind and next to while engaged in a game.

    As kindergartners learn to listen and follow directions, they can also learn positional words. By physically moving things in relation to positions, students pay attention to the movements. For example, a teacher could have a shoebox with a few books around the box. He could point out that the book to the right of the box is outside of the box and ask a student to place it inside the box. He could then ask another student to place a different book under the box.

    Kindergartners will see positional words in everyday rhymes that they may already know. By repeating rhymes and reinforcing what characters are doing, students get a grasp on the meaning. For example, the common Jack and Jill nursery rhyme includes several positional words, such as up, down and after. Students can discuss the characters going up the hill, Jack falling down the hill and Jill coming after.

    About the Author

    Michele Cooper has been freelance editing and proofreading since 2006. She has published poetry in the literary journal "Night Roses." Cooper currently teaches writing courses at the community college level and brings her expertise in communication to all of her writing. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Hunter College and a master's degree in teaching/education from State University New York at New Paltz.

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