Making a great Open House for parents is actually pretty easy with all the tools and technology today. I like to use simple scavenger hunts for students to help show their parents around the room. Taking pictures of families helps keep you busy and not be too available for any “parent conference” type of conversations. I direct parents to the conference sign up sheets. I also don’t let volunteers come in the room until after Open House. In kindergarten, this helps the kids learn the routine without relying on parents. Some teachers create easy slideshows to show rules, routines or student’s pictures. I usually have a few All About Me items out, including an All About Me Journal where the parents are encouraged to sit and write a note to their child at the end of the night. Students make Mini Me Persons that I tape to their chairs that help the room look adorable! Smile a lot, and show off what you have helped their children learn in the short amount of time they have been with you.
Students in primary grade levels need all the help they can get at their finger tips. Desk name tags have always been used to help students discover how to spell their name with proper handwriting. I prefer to use tags that students can use in lessons as a reference. Tags that have the alphabet, numbers, colors and show right vs. left are some of my favorite useful tools to have at my student’s reach. We sing the alphabet and students point to each letter. We do the same with the numbers, colors and hands. I’m so glad that I waited a week to put the kid’s names on these tags because we were over-crowded and added a new unit in Kindergarten this year. What kinds of desk tags do you use in your classroom?
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Starting school for some students can be a rough transition. I have seen temper tantrums, full day crying episodes and disengagement from learning because they can’t stop thinking about home. These students do need some extra attention. To make the day smoother for all parties involved, I have a few tricks I’ll share with you to help ease the process.
- First let the student and parent know that these reactions and emotions are normal. Every student adjusts differently to beginning school. Also, let them know there are steps each person can take help make school a positive experience.
- A parent can try some role-play at home. Use puppets or stuffed animals and have them act out coping strategies. For example, “Lizzy doesn’t want to leave mom and go to school. What can she do to make herself feel better when she is gone? Maybe talk to the teacher or counselor.”
- Parents need to make their “Goodbyes” quick. This is the MOST important advice I give parents. If a child sees you are upset too, or hanging around the class window, it validates their fear.
- Parents should attend Meet Your Teacher events and visit the school for a tour prior to school beginning. Knowing your environment helps calms everyone’s fears.
- Teachers can also do role play and other activities to let the whole class know how to solve normal stress in school. Ask other students how they deal with being away from home. The first week of school, you can read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. Then, I send a home connection activity where parents add a picture and personal sweet message to their child. We refer to it all year, as needed.
- Let children talk about their fears.
- Have a “Safe Place” in your class, where a student can go when they are upset. Have calming breathing exercises, or some stress balls there for them to focus on to distract them from their fear.
- Read books about other kids starting school. The Night Before Kindergarten or Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten are great books.