The beginning of the school year is coming and everyone is starting to feel the anticipation, anxiety, and excitement. Teachers are raiding Target, parents are school shopping, and all the new kindergartners are wondering what this school thing is all about. Here are some tips to make the first days of school go a little bit easier for everyone involved.
Don't Kick the Parents Out
Now this advice goes counter to what you may have heard! But honestly, it is very sound advice! Don't feel like you have to rush the parents out of your classroom when they drop off their kids. Let the parents come into your room with their child if they would like. Let them stay and leave when they are comfortable. (You will be surprised. They will leave sooner than you think, and everyone will have a smile on their face).
Set up fun and exciting stations in your room, activities the children will probably already know how to interact with. Activities they can play with as soon as they enter the room. You can have out things like puzzles, play dough, watercolors, or Mr. Potato Heads at the tables for the children to immediately use. The students will naturally be drawn to these activities, they will get the message that school is a safe and fun environment that is not to dissimilar to things they have done before. As their parents watch them settle in, they will feel comfortable too, and will feel safe leaving their child in your care.
If you would like to try this, you can use these tasks cards to display at each activity: It will be $3 well spent! These cards changed my beginning days of school for the better!
TEACH PROCEEDURES SNEAKILY
We've all heard that you should spend the first weeks of school teaching procedures so that the rest of the year will go smoothly, and, let's face it, if you're teaching kindergarten it's really more like you're spending the first months of school teaching procedures. These important procedures can be taught in ways that are fun and engaging for students. For example, if you want to teach your students how to use glue and scissors properly in your classroom, let them practice gluing dot pictures or cutting a path to help an airplane fly on a pathway. There are activities like this in our cutting and gluing packet.
Let the kids "read"
All of your kindergarteners have been told they are going to school to learn how to read because they are now five. And yes, they are going to expect to be reading on that very first day of school. So let them! I have a simple abc book in our alphabet unit that I always use on the first day. We sing the alphabet song together and then for my very first guided reading lesson (yes I begin center rotations on day one) we read the alphabet book. Now all of my students can go home and proudly tell their parents that they are now readers!
Take Small steps
Don't feel like you can't let kids do anything in your classroom before you have taught them every procedure. Give yourself a break and only focus on a few small procedures a day. It's okay if the only procedure your students learn on the first day is how to get safely into and out of the classroom (remember that comment earlier about kindergarten procedures taking months). Know that children need to free play with materials too, so take advantage of that and make room in your schedule for free-play block or toy time, or a time for free exploration of easy-to-use classroom materials. Remember your goal is for the children to feel like school is an enjoyable place right from the "get go" and to not even know they are slowly learning the ins-and-outs of your classroom.
Remember to Simplify
Honestly I feel like this teacher in the comic each school year; the beginning of the year in kindergarten is not for the faint of heart! Hopefully if you use the tips above, things will go smother for you. I know that it does for me.
Make it a goal this year to simplify your teaching and focus on what really matters. Remember the classroom is for children, not a Pinterest ad. Lean on your colleagues; you are in this together. Go home early enough to cook a healthy dinner, get some exercise, and enjoy your evening.