Arriving to a preschool classroom for the first day is downright daunting for some little ones. This year, I had several students who walked into my classroom for the first time having been left to the care of anyone else besides family. In this post I've included some activities that have helped me ease the welcoming process of new students to the classroom.
Every summer, I host a "Meet the Teacher and other Friends Evening." While the students have usually met me already during the enrollment tour, it is still a good reminder of who Teacher Stacey is. Especially if enough time has passed since our tour! I keep our evening short and simple and introduce the children to their fellow classmates, and the parents to the other parents. I give a brief overview of our schedule, and allow the children to discover what will be their new classroom while parents ask any questions they may have.
The following are other fun ideas for the transition into the school year. One is for the Teacher/Caregiver, one is for the child, and one is for the parents.
Teacher/Caregiver This one has been extremely helpful to get to know my new students each year. I hand out Family Surveys about a week before school starts. You can adapt this to your needs. Asking about siblings, and pets gives you talking points when the children seem extra shy. Asking how they are accustomed to being comforted helps you know a little about what home life looks like. And I like to include at least one question about the parent's expectations to get to know the parents as well. Leaving an open ended question at the end leaves room for anything additional the parents may think you have missed.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU & YOUR CHILD BETTER
1. Who are the members of your household?
2. Which extended family members live nearby or does your child see regularly?
3. Do you have any family pets?
4. Which languages are spoken in the home?
5. What cultural and religious celebrations are important to you?
1. How does your child feel about coming to school?
2. What activities does your child like best?
3. What are your child’s favorite toys/books?
4. What are your child’s greatest strengths?
5. What are your child’s greatest challenges?
6. How do you comfort your child when he/she is upset?
7. What are your goals for your child’s development and learning?
8. Is there something you feel is important for me to know about your child before the school year starts?
Child For the child I borrowed this idea from a friend of mine. When a family registers or enrolls their child you will have their home address. Receiving mail is almost a lost art and maybe that is why it has become so magical to children. I send my new students a postcard 2-3 weeks before the first day of class. I hope receiving a card in the mail from Teacher Stacey made their day!
Other ideas for the children:
I make sure there is a special place for each of them in the classroom for their backpacks, and their artwork. I allow them to bring something special from home such as a blanket or lovey, or even a box of markers! if it will make the transition easier. I make sure every child's birthday is marked on our Birthday Wall, and everyone is introduced to her peers. I want every child to be recognized. Some people make sure to have photographs of their children and the families posted.
I give all my students a tour of each center and what is out and how to use different materials so they are very comfortable in the new environment. I repeat my name multiple times throughout the first days by talking in the third person so they know what to call me.
Parents For this activity on the child's first day, you paint both of his hands (with washable paint!) and have them press them each down on a paper that has been previously printed with this sweet poem:
Here are my hands with ten fingers in all.
My first mark this school year to hang on the wall.
As years go by, I will remember and say,
“My hands and I had a great first day!”
Lastly, this survey is simply a whimsical way to capture how much each child's vocabulary and thought process grows throughout the school year. Record each child's answers during the first week of school and save them in a folder. Near the end of the school year, print out another identical survey and record the answers again. Parents (and you!) will love to see how much the answers vary from the beginning to the end. Be sure to date both surveys!
ALL ABOUT ME
My full name is_________________________________________
My birthday is_________________________________________
I live in_________________________________________
My Mom’s name is __________________________________________
She likes to __________________________________________
My Dad’s name is __________________________________________
He likes to_________________________________________
When I grow up I want to be_____________________________________
My favorite story is _________________________________________
My favorite thing to play with is ___________________________________
I like school because _________________________________________
Enjoy! And please leave comments if you decided to use any of these. I'd love to see how they work for you!