Mrs. Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids!
I wanted to share some advice and beginning of school activities that I do in my classroom. Maybe some of these ideas can work for you!
1. Make parents feel like a part of your class as much as you can! I've always made it a point to really take time to get to know the parents of my students. I take as much time as needed at parent/teacher meet-up before school starts, the first day of school and most days after school. Parents always have concerns and questions and I make myself available as much as I can. At the I teach K conference this summer, I heard one speaker talk about making parents feel important by having their family picture posted in the classroom. The teacher actually set up a special area where every child was photographed with their family on the first day of school. Anybody who came with that child to school that day was considered part of the child's family and was included in the picture–whether it was an aunt, uncle, mom, dad or neighbor! She just got cheap frames from the dollar store and displayed every child's family! Not only would it make the student feel more comfortable in the classroom, but any time visitors walked in, they would immediately see how important family is in your room!
2. Get to REALLY know your students! I take a great a deal of time to really let my students get to know each other the first couple days. During the first few days of school, we have more “free time” than any other time in the year–this free time may include time to explore different kinds of manipulatives, sing and dance to a variety of songs or play partner games. I feel like it is important to not only let all of the kids play with each other but it's important for me to see how they all interact with each other on their own terms. This is usually the time when I get to see each child's TRUE personality! This is such a telling time for me and I really take time to watch each child as closely as I can (and I even take notes sometimes). I can see who plays well with others, who likes to play alone and which children may be a little ornery! 🙂
3. Get down and play! During extra free time in the first few days of school, I really make it a point to get down on the floor and play with each child. This is the time that I get to have personal and deep conversations with each child while they get to see me as a more personable teacher. I can't say that ever really remember my teachers sitting on the floor and being interested in what I was doing- more or less asking me about my life and family. I really want each of my students to know that I care about them and I'm available to talk when needed.
4. Do parent surveys! My teammates and I have parents complete a parent survey at ‘parent communication day' a few days before school starts. Having parents complete simple questions about their child really gives us a head start on knowing their child. Besides asking the basic questions of address, phone numbers and medical issues, other questions range from pre-school experience, to sibling information, to bathroom issues, to family issues/concerns. We feel like having this information on hand in our classroom is really helpful especially during the first few weeks of school. I usually store this sheet in each child's folder (I keep a continuously growing file folder in my desk for each child) so that if I'm in a jam or need parent information quickly, I have it right there at my fingertips!
5. Get organized quickly! I always try to get organized before school starts–even if this means
staying pretty late to get it all done! I've learned that putting it off for later never works and it always puts me behind the eight ball!!! Once we get our class list-which is the day before school starts- I take time to print up tons of labels with each child's name and class number on them. This way I can quickly and efficiently label every ones cubbie, backpack hook, coat hook and take home folder. Then I store the rest of the extras in my teacher binder for future use (for example, field trip name tags!).
These are a few of my essentials for the days leading up to school starting and the first few weeks of school. I hope you found something that was usual to you! If you haven't stopped by my blog, I would love for you to come take a look and maybe even become a follower! See ya soon!