The first day of school can be overwhelming for many students (and teachers). Despite new supplies and the promise of seeing friends, many students are nervous, and some are even a little scared. What can we do to alleviate some of these first week of school jitters?
While it takes time for everyone to get to know each other, the first week of school should include activities that focus on welcoming students, making them feel comfortable, and building a sense of community in your classroom.
- Use a spinner, a container filled with numbers, or a die. Whatever number appears after a spin, draw, or toss is the number of things the chosen student has to share about her/himself. Do this with students each day during the first week of school.
- Add humor. It is a great stress reliever. Share a funny picture book to develop a positive connection on the first day. A classroom filled with laughter is a classroom with positive energy.
- Hearing soothing music when students arrive provides a welcoming atmosphere. As the year progresses, have students select different songs to begin and end each day or create “theme” songs for your classroom.
- Create a “Getting-to-Know You” survey. Have students post and share their responses on a bulletin board. Information from the survey helps students get to know each other and helps you discover their reading and project interests. Sample questions include:
- If you could be an animal, what animal would you be?
- What do you like to do away from school?
- What do you want to learn this year?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- Examining the role of “favorite things” is a creative way for children to express their interests and feelings. Ask children to think of (or bring in) an object that is special to them. How does the object represent their interests? What impact does it have on their lives?
Take student movement breaks. Like children, I have trouble sitting still, so movement helps me focus. We all need movement to perform at our very best –
especially during the procedural-filled first week of school. Simple stretches and tossing a nerf ball while asking and answering questions are easy ways to integrate movement with