Worried you missed something while lesson planning for the first day of school? Below you will find 4 MUST- DO’s on the first day, that will help you have a successful first day!
1. High interest/Engaging Centers
Dinosaur puzzles, Mr. Potato head, magna tiles, and trucks. Oh My! These are just a few popular toys that children’s ages 3-6 really enjoy! These are the kind of toy that should be at the tables/centers on the first day of school. Why?
Starting at a new school can be difficult for children but also for parents. These parents are trusting us with their children, and they just met us. As teachers, we already anticipate that the students will be feeling scared, or nervous as they walk into our busy little classrooms. Being specific about the types of toys we have out will make a BIG difference.
The goal is that students will migrate towards the tables automatically; hopefully while waving bye to their parents. These centers will help student feel excited to be at school and eager to check out the rest of the classroom. Look around your room and start planning now. The goal is to have a toy or activity that won’t require explanation. Which toys will you have out for morning arrival? Which toys’ will keep the students’ interest?
2. Visual Supports
Sped Teachers plus visuals equals happiness. Visuals are a must in any Special Education classroom! One reason you need to have them properly displayed around your room is that our preschoolers, likely, cannot read. Let’s also not forget, our students are small; all visuals should be at their eye level. There should be visuals placed on cubbies, on the bathroom door, centers, a visual schedule, a visual of where toys belong and visuals of how to wash hands/use toilet. These visual will help little ones know where to find/put things but also help your room stay organized.
Similarly, if you have a classroom with several staff (we have 4 adults in our class), then these visuals will also help them keep track of where things go. In addition, there is a lot to remember on the first day and this little touches make such a difference. Am I right? Let’s make things easier for everyone in our classrooms.
3. Pairing with students
What is pairing in the classroom? Pairing is a way to get to know and build positive relationships with your students. Pairing is carried out by having the student choose a toy or activity that is highly preferred. It is something the child really loves and enjoys. As stated above, a teacher or staff member will actively engage in the activity with the child to build a positive relationship.
This strategy helps the student become more comfortable with you and hopefully begin to come out his or her shell. With the first day/first week being extremely busy, I would recommend that you plan out specific times to pair with your students individually.
Ideally, this time should be play based when particularly when working with children ages 3-6 year old. I would recommend the teacher begins this on the first day and alternate throughout the day, and throughout the week with the other staff members in the classroom. Again, this is a planned, intentional time in your schedule to build relationships with students. Check out 3 Ways to Build Rapport with Students for more tips.
4. Teach Routines
Routines will be a big deal on day one and throughout the first semester. With our littles, we should be flexible. Center time on the first day will start with a little mini lesson on how to play with the toys there. This will be done with teacher modeling and with visuals. Teachers will do a lot of modeling and a lot of practicing on what to do and what not to do. My Co-Teacher and I only put out some of our kitchen toys. We did not immediately take out and stock up the kitchen in the dramatic play center. The reason for this is that the students will become overwhelmed with it all which would make it difficult for them to clean up/follow the rules that were just reviewed.
By limiting the number of toys on the first day and first couple of weeks, students really begin to appreciate and take care of what is in our class. Furthermore, routines make it easier to model cleaning up and demonstrating how to play with the toys.
Finally, teaching routines should not take very long as young students will not stay attentive for long. Routines are something that you and other staff members will probably repeat and reteach for the first two weeks or even month. With out a doubt, explicitly teaching and modeling what is expected during centers/small group on the first day is what eventually will set you up for a successful year!
Are any of these strategies on your first day must do’s?
Check out the resources below!