Children sit next to each other on a classroom carpet. One child has her hand extended, thumb raised.

Coach's
Column

Susan Roberts

Susan Roberts

August 1, 2021

Always remember this is a journey - enjoy the process!


The summer is flying by and a new group of children will be entering your class in a few weeks. You may know some of them. Others will be brand new to you and your school. What are your hopes and dreams for your little ones this year?


Having a well thought out plan for the first weeks of school, focusing on making connections and keeping frustrations to a minimum, will help set the tone for a successful year. Setting up a visual daily schedule can be done before the children enter your class. Having clear visual routines will help in guiding children to know procedures and be more self-reliant.


Visual Schedule:

To ease the anxiety of children who are not used to their new daily schedule, a visual schedule is helpful. It displays the larger chunks of time throughout the day. It may include arrival, morning circle and brain smart start, centers, cleanup, outside time, lunch, nap, and going home. Each chunk of time has a picture. The visual schedule should be displayed horizontally and at a level that a child can easily see. A class job may be to move a clip along the visual schedule as the day progresses. The cards can be hung on clips so you can change the schedule to have it reflect changes to your day.


Visual Routines – The Antidote to Chaos!

Take pictures of everyday routines such as: washing hands, lining up, using the bathroom, lunch/snack routines, what a clean center looks like, etc. These routines should be reviewed regularly at the beginning of the year. Pictures of your students doing the routines is very impactful.


Here are some reminders for connecting with children and families:


Greeting: As children and parents come in, greet them individually. Waving, jazz hands, elbow or foot touch, and twirling are some non-touch greetings you can try.


Brain Smart Start:

  • Activity to Unite

  • Welcome song, poem or chant

  • Activity to Disengage

  • Breathe: Star, Pretzel, Balloon, Drain: Calms and focuses

  • Activity to Connect

  • I Love You Ritual: This develops connection with others in the class.

  • Activity to Commit

  • Safe Keeper Ritual: To introduce: Explain your job as an adult. Your job is to keep children safe. It is also to teach and help children practice how to be safe. What does being safe mean? How can you keep your class safe? Commitments should be few, simple and positive. Have a box with to hold a picture of each student.

  • Everyone commits to a safe environment. Put box in center of circle or pass around the safekeeper box. You say “My job is to keep you safe. Are you willing to keep its safe?” Each child responds, “Yes, I will help keep it safe” as they put their picture in the box. If they do not commit you can skip the child and tell them when they are ready they can put their picture in the box.

  • As the children get into this routine you may want to introduce more involvement and commitment.

  • This doesn’t have to be done one certain way. Focus on the intent, making a commitment to keeping the whole class safe, not the procedure. Make it work for your class.

Wishing Well: Developing concern and compassion for those missing from class. This shows each child they are important and thought of even if they are sick sick, at appointment, on a trip, etc. They are missed and loved.

  1. Take a deep breath.

  2. Put your hands over your heart while filling your heart with love.

  3. Send that love out to others as you open your arms and exhale.

Job Board with Meaningful Jobs: Teacher initially chooses a job for each child. Each week names are rotated to the right. This ensures that all children have a turn at each job and eliminates arguments over favorite jobs.


Friends and Family Board: Display pictures of children with their family members. Make plans to take family pictures at orientation, open house, arrival or dismissal. An aide or volunteer can help.


Remember, it is worth the time spent at the beginning of the school year to develop connections with your little ones and their families. Go slow and work on getting to really know your children and their families. The connections you are making provide the sense of security children need to be open to learning throughout the year.


We are wishing you well!

The Childcare Resources Team


Related Resources:

If you have questions about the planning for the school year or implementing any of the activities above feel free to contact Paulette or Susan at 772-567-3202 x115.

A young child and a teacher are sitting in a classroom. They are holding tambourines.