Here are helpful tips for starting the year by making children comfortable each and every day.

Arrival

  • Welcome each child and the person who brings him warmly and by name.
  • Show the child the cubby labeled with his picture or symbol and name.
  • Introduce family members to one another whenever possible.
  • Invite small groups of children to play in the various areas of your room.
  • Help each child engage in play or in an activity. Remember that watching what's going on is an activity, and many children need to do it for a while as part of settling in.
  • Ask yourself: Does each child look happy to be at school? If not, how can I help? What can I do for children who may seem sad or angry?

Group Time

  • Sing songs that use children's names, that spark happiness, and that use friendship as a theme.
  • Read stories about separations between child and parent and about starting school (see book box, page 56).
  • Play a game in which partners are needed. Repeat with different partners for the next game.
  • Ask yourself: Is anyone not participating? Can you cleverly involve him, if only by drawing him onto your lap?

Transition Times

  • Gently but firmly explain your transition procedures.
  • Assign partners. Encourage conversation as partners clean up, line up, or go where the class is going.
  • In a positive way, focus on the few who need you so that an ongoing problem doesn't develop.
  • Ask yourself: Is anyone disruptive, falling apart in these unstructured moments, or in other ways letting you know that she needs extra help? Can you enlist another child's help in engaging the child who has difficulty with transitions?

Work Time

  • Provide familiar activities as well as those that provide new challenges.
  • Encourage children to work with partners or in small groups when tackling problem-solving activities.
  • Ask yourself: Is each child challenged by the activities in a way that is comfortable for him? What can I do to help those children who may be restless or frustrated?

Meat and Snack Times

  • Develop a routine emphasizing sharing food together.
  • Assign jobs pertaining to setting, serving, and clearing so that each child feels involved.
  • Ask yourself: Which children haven't yet connected to anyone? Invest your energy in making them feel comfortable in this group.

Outdoor Play

  • Create name cards for each child. Place the name cards in various areas of your outdoor play space and ask children to hunt for their names. This will help to personalize the space as well as familiarize children with the equipment.
  • Assign jobs for returning equipment and tidying outdoor areas so that each child feels a sense of ownership and responsibility for maintaining the area.
  • Ask yourself: Does each child appear to be engaged in an outdoor activity? What can I do to involve children who may be fearful or reluctant to play?

Departure

  • Offer a warm goodbye to each child in the group, using children's names and identifying something positive each child did during the day.
  • Give a quick "preview" of some interesting "happenings" that will occur during the week.
  • Happily greet individuals who arrive to pick up children.
  • Ask yourself: Did each child have a satisfying day at school? What can I do to make things better tomorrow?