Teacher Tips for the First Day of Kindergarten

May 30, 2020 | August, Back To School, Fall, Management, Teacher Wisdom | 25 comments

7 Tips for a Smooth First Day of Kindergarten!

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!

This article works well with these Simply Kinder resources:

Label your students as they walk in the door.

Student Name Tags for the first day of school.

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!

Use Post-it notes on your dismissal chart for the first week of school.  This will help you to be able to quickly change who is going one using what method!

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.

What to realistically plan on the first day of kindergarten! Great article for kindergarten teachers at back to school!

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!


  1. Jerri

    I’m so excited to have found you on Pinterest! I’m facing my first year teaching kindergarten.

  2. Brenda Leland

    Our resource people come around and hand out wristbands to each child as to how they go home and they do this pretty much the whole first week. The wristbands are color coded by bus color, car rider, day care etc… This really helps at the end of the day so that other faculty had their eyes out for littles that may have not stayed with their group. It’s a life saver!

  3. Joyce

    I’m a long time veteran but definitely benefited from this. I like the pattern blocks idea. I always have a coloring page but some finish in record time

  4. Tracy

    When my kinders come in on the first day they have to find their name tags in a pocket chart, with their parent, and find a seat. Then they get to unwrap a gift from me. It’s really just their supplies but they love getting a gift on the first day. Once their supplies are taken care of they have an activity to do at their table so I can meet the others as they arrive. Parents fill out information on the back of another name tag (a long one that would go on a desk). They fill in their own name on the back, contact number and then how and who will pick up their child or bus rider etc. I laminate these and put them on a ring to carry around until I know it. Great for subs. The first day is a big one for sure.

  5. Esther Drzewiecki

    I put out playdough and get lost in it so parents can leave easier. The children last year could of played playdough all year. They were disappointed if we didn’t do it.

    • Nancy Baker

      Playdough is my go-to activity! Excellent choice from pre-k to adults! Nice work!

  6. Cece :o)

    Awesome activities! My question is where did you get your pattern block pics? I think that is a perfect activity for the first day!!!

    • Deirdre

      You can find Many on google images. Search pattern blocks or tanagrams. Last year I printed off close to 100 that I found and have a filing system in my class that I sorted them all alphabetically as I also have letter Playdoh mats

  7. Erika

    I am rather terrified of the first day! I’ve been teaching 15 years, but this is my FIRST year teaching kinder. YIKES!!! I know you say don’t go crazy with the plans, but I am having trouble with what to actually say 1st, 2nd, and so on once I get to the carpet. I don’t want to be rules, rules, rules right away and turn them off to school. I was thinking with simple intros, attendance, and Pete the cat book. Hope it works!!! Thanks for the first hour tips !

    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      You are very welcome! Be sure you head over to pre-k and K Sharing as well.. there are lots of management tips over there.

      My suggestion for your plans… before recess, prepare for recess. Take them outside and show them, practice. Then before lunch, talk about lunch, take them, show them, practice. Then after lunch. Do a story and some centers. The centers will allow you time to regroup and prepare for dismissal. Get anything prepared like folders with calendars etc. Have them work at their tables though… no getting up and moving around just yet. Then practice dismissal. If you invest your first day on making those times successful you will really have more time the rest of the week to learn! =) Good luck. Stop by and let me know how it went!

      • Shelley

        Where is pre k and k sharing that you mentioned above?

    • Ronett

      I agree, Keep it simple. Simple rules before things that you do plan; hallway rules before leaving room, cafe rules before going to lunch, playground rules before recess, etc. I always tell teachers, there are two important things for the first day of school- 1) feed them and 2) get them home in the correct way. All of the rest is bonus. Make memories, play a game that helps introduce all of the students to each other in the classroom, read a few books about first day of school throughout the day, simple, simple, simple. GOOD LUCK

      • irene

        do not take the children to recess the first day, or possibly the first week. get to know them first, so you won’t have any surprises. Legos are fun and so are building blocks. if you have supplies for them, make sure they are all exactly the same. they notice everything. sit with them the first week of lunch so they know not to walk out of the cafeteria. help punch the numbers in or to show their nametags to the cashier. never walk in front of the line, always behind so you can see if anybody drops out.

  8. Kate

    Girl, you have that DOWN! You better make a pedicure appointment for yourself after that busy day. 🙂 Great idea to have a ‘meatier’ activity than coloring – some of those babies probably use one color, scribble over the page, and they’re all done! Haha!

    Second Grade Sparkle

    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      First week and field trips in kinder are always fun! =) My sister teachers second grade.. I was helping her set up the other day and was like how fun to teach older little ones. =)

    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      It can be scary! Did you see the other post as well? There are lots more ideas over there! My favorite is probably the wristbands!

  9. Katie

    Thank you for this post! It really helped me sort out day 1 in my mind. Great ideas. Thanks!

  10. Tickled Pink

    This is a great post– and I especially love the how we get home chart- using those stickies is brilliant!! It changes so often- great idea!!

  11. Stephanie

    I love your idea for the hats! I feel the same way – I practice practice practice all our routines and rules and have fun activities planned as well as extra back up plans incase something fails or we move really fast through my plans!

    MaMa Goose’s Kindergarten

    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      Just read your post as well on the first day. Great advice… everyone should head over to see!


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