5 Tips To Prepare For A Substitute Teacher In Kindergarten

How do I prepare for a substitute teacher…it’s so overwhelming?

I have taught kindergarten for 13 of my 20 years in education. Before that I was a substitute teacher. Let’s just say…I rarely accepted kindergarten sub jobs. It’s overwhelming, to say the least. Young children thrive in consistency and…well…having a sub is just…well…not consistent.


Getting ready for a substitute teacher can also be stressful, exhausting and overwhelming. Especially in kindergarten…ANY time of the year. BUT…it doesn’t HAVE to be.

Keep these 5 tips in mind when you are preparing for a sub and you will find some of the overwhelm disappear.

Tip #1: Have A Plan

This might sound really basic and almost too simple but…just have a plan as you prepare for a substitute teacher. What do you want the sub to know about your class? What do you want the sub to do while you are gone? What do you NOT want the sub to do while you are gone?

I find that having a checklist of things that I need to leave for the sub helps me remember everything I need to do.

Here is a FREE checklist that is helpful for thinking through all the details.

Free checklist to help you prepare for a substitute teacher

Tip #2: Be Specific

More than likely, this sub does NOT know you or your students. He/she has never watched you teach and does not know your personality or how you relate to your students. As you prepare for a substitute teacher just remember…the more information you can give your sub, the easier it will be for you, your students and the sub. Who in your class has allergies or health issues and what is the protocol if something were to go wrong? Where is the lunchroom and how do you get your students there? What are your procedures for Centers? How do you teach writing? Where do kids get their supplies?

While often your students already know the answer to many of these questions, it’s even better if the sub can have this information too.

The good news is, once you create this information, you only have to do it once then place it in a substitute binder and you can to refer back to it in your sub lesson plans.

Tip #3: Leave More Than Planned

There is NOTHING worse than finding out that a lesson the teacher has prepared for the kids only takes 10 minutes and there is still 20 minutes of work time.

Write or type out your lesson plans. Leave all the activities, worksheets and books. Then add a little MORE. Let the sub know that if he/she ever has extra time you have included some extra worksheets or books to read. That is one thing that never fails…fun books to read to the kids.

Tip #4: Stick With Your Routine

Okay…this is the toughest tip yet…that’s why it’s the most important. Kindergarteners thrive in routine. They might not read a clock yet BUT they can tell time…by the routines. I do understand that there may be things that you do NOT want your sub to do with your students. Most kids have a LITTLE flexibility. But, if you can, stick with your routine. This just means that if you have a whole group calendar time, explain how you do it (or have the sub let the class know that during “calendar time” we are going to do…). If you have writing every day after lunch then stick with that. The type of writing might look different but the routine stays the same.

Tip #5: Let Your Students Feel Successful

One more VERY important thing…make sure you leave work that will help your students feel success. This might not be the best time to start a brand new unit on something that you want taught a certain way. It is, however, a great time to give them review work. Give them things that will help them feel successful.

If you must start a new unit, that’s fine, just know that you may be reteaching that introduction when you return.

I have a FREE CHECKLIST to get you started on planning for your sub.

If you need MORE I have a bundle of lesson plans that could work any time of the year. They include editable pages for your schedule, lesson plans, procedures and other information. There are also checklists (NOT editable) of worksheets and activities that you can have your students do while you are gone.

prepare for a substitute teacher using this Quick and Easy resource - cover and link

Check out this blog post to see how I use my Quick & Easy Sub Plans!

Making Sub Planning In Kindergarten Quick And Easy

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