Today was my first day back in our classroom since the end of the year in June. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it, until I walked through the door to our room.
Throughout the summer, I had picked up little things here and there. I had collected flower petals, leaves, art supplies, books, etc…I had thought about our first week of school and what we do.
My teaching partner and I arranged to meet today. We first discussed what we wanted our first week of school to be like for our students. Since we became partners, we gave each other respect, and listened to one another’s thoughts and ideas. We have had been able to do our planning together and work collaboratively for the best interest of our students. Today, we both had the same thought…lots of play. This would give us time to interact with all of the children, and to start to get to know them. It was also give the new students an opportunity to feel more comfortable and secure during their first week at school.
We set up our sand table, and buried crabs with letters on them for the children to search for. We filled our book centre with stories and picture books about school, being yourself and friendship. Our math centre has simple math manipulatives, especially lots of blocks in it. Our art centre has several containers filled with things children can create whatever they want to with. The dramatic play centre is set up as a house. On the shelves around our large carpet, we have put toys that can promote fine motor skills, as well as encourage the children’s imaginations. We have a gas station, trucks, maps, puppets, puzzles, Lego, and other toys for the children to explore. We will also set up our paint easel before the day begins.
After spending the day at school, I am not only ready for Tuesday, but I am genuinely excited for school to begin!
Starting school is an important step in your child’s life, as well as yours. For both of you, it can be exciting, and scary. Remember that this is a big event, and help support your child in their new adventure. This can be true for older children as well. They have had the summer off, and some children might be anxious about going back to school in the Fall.
Here are a few tips that will help you get your child ready for that first day of school.
- Take a tour of the school. Before the first day of school, visit the school with your child so that the building and playground become familiar. If you have access to inside of the school, take your child to the classroom he/she will be in for a quick tour. Even if you had a tour of the school in the Spring, it is a good idea to do it again just before school starts to remind your child of where everything is. This can also give your child a feeling of security and confidence for that first day of school if he/she is re-familiarized with the school.
- Get into a routine. About a week or so before the start of school, begin putting your child to bed at a normal time for a school night. For a week before school starts, be sure your child then gets up, dressed, and fed like a regular school morning. This is a good idea for children who are just beginning school, as well as older children who might need to get back into a routine before that first day of school in the Fall.
- Practise sharing. Give your child all kinds of opportunities to be with other kids, to learn to share, wait, and take turns. That’s what school is all about.
- Teach the importance of listening. School means being able to listen. Kids need to understand and practise listening, things like: look at who is talking, don’t interrupt, and think about what is being said. Modelling these skills are a great way to show your child what listening means.
- Learn at home. Include learning in your child’s everyday life. For example, a child can practise by reading package labels or weighing produce while shopping. Read to your child. Play word or counting games.
- Develop your child’s motor skills. Children need daily physical activity. Give your child every opportunity to exercise and develop larger muscles by running, climbing, playing with a ball, etc. Smaller hand muscles can be strengthened with playdough, scissors, painting, and crayons.
- Encourage communication. Oral communication is very important. Encourage your child to communicate with the other students, as well as the staff at the school. Give your child the confidence to ask questions in all situations. Let your child know that it’s OK to tell the teacher if something is hard to understand, or if they are uncomfortable in any situation.
Literacy does not only mean reading. It also involves language and writing skills. We use our literacy skills everyday. Several school boards have made literacy one of their top priorities. This has left many parents wondering how they can help their child(ren) with literacy skills at home. You should always read about your child(ren)’s age and what is developmentally appropriate for that age, before trying ideas with them.
Some simple ideas are:
- read at home (ask child questions, have child tell you a word, take turns reading)
- board games
- rhyming words games or the Name Game
- fridge magnets for younger children
- small blocks and playdough to promote fine motor skills for younger children
- create books by taking pictures and have the children write the stories or words
- scrapbooks for older children
- be an active & reflective listener, and model appropriate language
- older children can have a pen-pal from another country
- have your older child write a letter to their favourite author
- have your child bury a “treasure” and then create a map for you to find it
- visit your community’s public library
If you make literacy activities fun and exciting at home, your child’s love for reading, writing and language will continue to grow throughout their childhood.
At the end of this past year, we held a Silent Auction and BBQ at our school. We decided to hold our annual “Welcome to Kindergarten” event on the same night to make it easier for families to attend. Families can be so busy that having everything hosted on one evening can simplify life. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to meet almost every child who has registered for our Full Day Kindergarten Program in the upcoming school year.
Parents were excited for their child to be entering the Full Day Learning Kindergarten Program, but they also felt some apprehension on whether their child would be ready for Kindergarten. Every family wanted to know how to prepare their child to start school.
These families had taken the first step and were at the school, with their child, to meet the teachers and have a tour. But what about the rest? For me, the answer for parents came easily - play. Play with your child and your child will be ready for school.
Through play, your child will learn valuable skills like sharing, turn taking, interacting in a positive way with others, spatial awareness, oral language, problem solving, etc…..the list of skills a child can aquire through play is long and invaluable. You can even play “school” with your child if you want to give your child a sense of what it might be like.