The first day of preschool is a lot of work. I will not lie. Actually, the first few weeks are! But there are things you can do to help make these days end with smiles. From the children AND the teachers!
Every single year, over 15 years’ worth, I forget how hard those first weeks can be. BUT, each year does get easier, because I have learned a thing or two. I decided to write a post about how our first day with our 3 year olds goes, hoping it will help some of you preschool teachers!
I create a sign in sheet that has two columns. One is with the name of the child and the other is left blank. When the preschoolers enter our classroom, they take a pencil and find their names. They draw a line from their name across the blank column, all the way to the right. This teaches them how to move from left to right. As the year progresses, they start writing some letters of their names instead of the line, or their entire name.
We wash our hands A LOT. State licensing requires us to wash upon arrival, when we come inside from outdoors. when we use the toilet, before snack, after snack….and the kids also like to wash after they have paint or glue on their hands. Therefore, many times there is a line at the sink. We mark a few X’s on the floor with colored tape. The children know to stand on one of the X’s until it is their turn.
We have two sets of cubbies. One is in the hallway for the parents. The other is in our classroom. When the children have finished something, they place it in their classroom cubby. (Note: if it is still wet, it goes on our drying table.)
At the end of centers time, we have a group clean up. The class helper rings the clean up bell and we all work together to put everything away. We make sure to allow extra time for this during the first few weeks, because it does take longer.
Each child has his own personal mat. One of the teachers puts them out after clean up. The children go to our book corner to find a book and they take it to their personal mats. They look at their books while we gather our circle time materials. At the start of the year, they need help finding their mats (their names are on them). But eventually not only do they find their own mats, but they find their friends’ mats as well.
Things to remember during those first weeks:
- Keep it simple. Only put a few materials in each center. Do not add more until you feel they are ready.
- Show them how to use the materials.
- Never assume they know how to do anything! Take that time to model what you want them to do. Over and over again.
- Expect that everything will take longer. Plan accordingly.
- Get to know them. Your most important job right now is to give one-on-one to each of them. It might not happen all in one day. But make sure to find that time over the week. Listen to them. Hear their stories.
- Let the parents know how it’s going. If we know a parent or child is having a hard time, we will text them during class with a photo to let them know how things are going. We let them know that if they have ANY concerns, they can ask. It’s important to establish that trust right from the start.
- Take care of YOU. Consider using your weekends to make meals to freeze for the week. Get your needed sleep.
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