Does teaching the first day of of Kindergarten scare you? Don’t be scared, be smart and realistic about what should happen! Here are some quick tips and tricks to make your first day teaching kindergarten fantastic!
Label your students as they walk in the door.
No one enters my room without a name tag. I hand them out during meet the teacher night and I will take them out in the morning where we line up. I want my kids to have these tags because some of your children may be too shy to speak to you. I invest n nice name tags each year that last the whole year. Student tags should have the first name on the front and last name, teacher name, and lunch numbers on the back! Click here to see our Disney name tags!
Know how your students get home before your parents leave.
Even if they told you at meet the teacher, verify with them again how their child is getting home. This is so important. The last thing you want to do is lose a child at dismissal and this is your chance to check again! I like to put the names on a go home chart with Post-it Page Markers. They are small enough to put many in a column and they are MOVEABLE so when a parent says she will pick a child up today, you they can quickly move it over so your chart is updated! I also keep a form chart and forms from my Free Parent Packet, but this is good for the first week of school as parents may adjust their schedules a little more than normal. And be sure to have your editable dismissal tags all ready to go so you can quickly change tags on their backpacks! (I like to hand those out at meet the teacher.)
Have an activity for the kids to work on immediately when they walk in the door!
The kids need to be in their seats working on something first thing. You will be talking with parents, helping students separate, consoling some criers, and talking with office staff as they bring you students who were not on your list. So you need some time where the kids are busy working. My suggestion is pattern blocks or puzzles at their tables. I would also have lots of options for the kids, different pattern block cards or puzzles. This way when they finish one they can grab another! Coloring is not a good activity because it has an end point.
Wait until you have control and are ready to start.
This last year that took about 40 minutes! My principal literally came in and asked if I needed help… no I don’t need help but I am not going to start until I am confident that I won’t have to stop and leave kids on the carpet with nothing to do! Remember, your kids are busy at their tables and so you have time to get taken care of what you need to before you start. Kindergartners with nothing to do on the first day roam around your room and can get scared… so they are just fine at their tables working until I am confident everything is calm enough to start.
Have realistic expectations.
Remember, many of your students will not know how to hold a pencil. Many will not know how to color. Many will not know how to stay in their seats. Some will call you mom and ask for juice. Some will not know how to button their pants (or even go to the bathroom themselves.) The list can go on and on.
Don’t plan crazy lesson plans.
That’s right, don’t plan crazy lessons for day one; save those for day two. I like day one to be more of a “go with the flow” and basic routines, procedures, and touring the campus. Don’t plan a cutting and gluing activity because many of your children will not know how to cut! You have to teach them this stuff and although there are many cute lessons out there for the first day, really think about if your children will be able to complete them. Again – have realistic expectations! Check out the full day’s schedule in What to Realistically Plan on the First Day of Kindergarten!
Send home a note to every student & let families know how they did.
Parents are going to want to know how they did and you are either going to be bombarded with questions or phone calls after school. Have these (or similar pages) already completed so all you have do is write students’ names on them. Say things like “I wrote my name very well today” or “I shared with a new friend today.” Print them and try to fill them out during the day as you see a child do something. Then when you get asked how a child did that day, you can say “Oh there is a note in your backpack!”
Whew! Heavy post! Especially when you read the both of them! Please leave any wisdom below!