- Be available at the door at the beginning, as well as at the end, of the day. If possible, arrange for a another adult to be in the classroom to supervise children who have already arrived so you are free to greet each child.
Welcome children before chatting with parents so that children know that they're important. Listen and look for clues about how they might be feeling.
Greet all parents warmly and professionally. Be a good listener to keep two-way communication open. For extended conversation, arrange for a phone call later.
Respect individual styles. Some children will zip past you to play with friends, while others might be slow to warm-up and may need extra encouragement to enter the room.
Establish greeting rituals. Place a pocket chart near the door. Children can drop their name cards so that friends know they've arrived.
Provide comfort corners. Soothing sand play and huggable, fuzzy stuffed animals help children who need extra nurturing upon entering the classroom.
Develop circle-time starters. If you have group time first, establish welcoming routines by singing a "Hello" song or songs that mention the children's names: "Here is __."
Make goodbyes to parents less stressful. Provide a neutral "goodbye place," such as a window where children can throw kisses or exchanged waves.
Generate enthusiasm. Lend a book or game which must be returned the next day. This is also a great conversation starter at the door!
- Greet families cheerfully at the day's end. Give children time to complete their activities and review their day.
Susan A. Miller, Ed.D., is a professor of early childhood education and the author of six books, including Learning Through Play: Sand, Water, Clay, and Wood (Scholastic Inc., 1994; $17.90).