Planning for the First Day of Kindergarten
- Grades: PreK–K, 9–12
The first day of kindergarten can be both exciting and frightening for students, parents, and the teacher too. There are mixed emotions everywhere as this day marks a huge milestone in the child's life. As teachers, we need to incorporate ideas to help ease first day jitters and start the school year off on the right track. Here are a few tips to help you plan for the first day of kindergarten.
Planning for the Teacher
Create a Teacher Checklist
Plan! Plan! Plan! When planning for the first day of kindergarten keep in mind that many students have never been in a school setting. Have your first day planned from the moment the first child enters your classroom to the time you wave goodbye to those bright eyes glancing back at you. You will have to teach things like walking in a line, sitting on the carpet, and eating without feeding the floor. It is important to have a procedure in place for everything. Remember that it is always best to over prepare! Take a look at this sample lesson plan created by the kindergarten team at my school.
Create several copies of your teach roster. On my roster I include important information such as, child's name, date of birth, parent number, type of transportation at dismissal and parent's email. Try out the template I created for my classroom roster.
When planning for the first day of kindergarten you will need to create name tags for students which include child's full name and teacher's name. This year I created a template for my classroom name tags and printed them on cardstock. I laminated the cardstock and connected inexpensive badge clips to them.
All instructional material such as pencils, crayons, and scissors should be ready to use. I do guided discovery before allowing students to use any material.
I suggest making a to-do list to keep track of everything such as the Must-Do List created by Scholastic for busy teachers like you.
Planning for Students
According to Paula Denton, author of The First Six Weeks of School, the focus of the first weeks of school should be upon getting to know each other and the routines and layout of the school.
Check out some activities I use to incorporate this theory.
- I use various songs, chants, and games to help students begin the community building process on day one. I begin my incorporating activities that help students learn each other's name. Check out What's In a Name? for a list of nursery rhymes that you can use to help students learn the names of their classmates.
- Students need to get acquainted with the routines of the school and classroom. Routines help give students a feeling of security. This may take weeks to establish, but once mastered, they will save both teachers and students time and energy for more important things.
Take a look at these two excellent resources by Scholastic that will help you teach routines for every aspect of a student's day.
Getting Students Acquainted With the Layout of Your School
Get your students familiar with their new surroundings by taking them on a tour. School tours are a great way to help students have fun while exploring the school. This year my class went on a hunt to find the Gingerbread Man. View The Gingerbread Man Hunt for a description of this activity.
- You can make the first day of school a little less stressful with a few good back-to-school books. Many of these books consist of characters that are experiencing jitters that are similar to those of your little ones. These books help students to relate to other children's experiences.
Here are just some of my favorites!
- The Kissing Hand
- The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School
- Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
- David Goes to School
- The Night Before Kindergarten
The first day of kindergarten can give parents nightmares. It's hard for parents to watch their little ones head off on the first real step toward independence. Each year my school has a Meet and Greet with the parents a week prior to the start of school. The Meet and Greet gives parents and students the opportunity to meet the teacher and view the classroom before the school year begins.
I always prepare a Welcome Packet for my parents. It includes activities, class expectations, and other important information about our school and class. The Meet and Greet is a small gesture that helps to relieve some of the anxiety parents may be feeling.
I hope the information provided will help get your school year off to a great start!