A new year begins! Happy New Year!
I wish you all an enjoyable, rewarding and successful 2020.
For many of us in the Southern Hemisphere, the school year begins later this month or early next month. Most of us are already making preparations for the year ahead, thinking about how we will organise our classrooms and what we will teach. Preparation can take a lot of our ‘own’ time but being organised can reduce anxiety when the school year begins.
At readilearn, our aim is to lessen your workload by assisting with preparation, giving you more time for those things non-work-related things you enjoy.
Start out right from day one
Establish a supportive classroom
When you are confident and organised from day one, the children (and their parents) will feel welcome and have positive attitudes to you, your classroom and school. You will set the tone for a successful school year for both you and your students.
The free resource Getting ready for the first day with Busy Bee resources lists some first day resources with suggestions for using them; including a welcome letter, a welcome sign for the door, desk name templates, name badges and a birthday chart.
The resources are available to download individually, or as a collection in the zip folder Busy Bee – Welcome resources for Day one.
Organise children’s equipment
In many schools, children are required to bring books and stationery to use during the school year. It is useful to have strategies for storing and organising the equipment in place right from the start.
Refer to suggestions in Labels for organising children’s classroom supplies.
To store children’s spare pencils, scissors, glue, and other small items, label a large resealable food storage bag for each child. Collect their items into the bags and store them in a large tub, organised in order of the roll. This way, each child’s equipment is easy to find when another lead pencil or other item is required.
Printable book labels are helpful when children need to identify one book e.g. for English from another, e.g. for maths.
Picture books to read
It is a good idea to have a stack of books for reading aloud as well as for children to browse on the first few days. Some of my favourite books for reading aloud on the first days of school include:
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox and Leslie Staub
Everyone is Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufmann
Both books support the establishment of a positive and welcoming classroom.
Classroom routines and events
Personalise the Who is here today? Interactive chart with the names of children in your class and use it on the interactive whiteboard as an unofficial record of attendance and to help children learn to recognise their own and others’ names.
International Year of Plant Health
As this year is the International Year of Plant Health, plan ways of incorporating learning about plants into your program.
For suggestions, see International Year of Plant Health —teaching ideas.
Celebrating 100 days of school
Many teachers like to count up to and celebrate one hundred days of school. Thinking about the 100th day of school may seem premature on the first day, but it is important to start counting from day one.
The interactive digital resource Busy Bees 100 chart can be used for all your usual number board activities, as well as to count how many days you’ve been at school. Simply display the resource at the beginning of each day and move the bee to the next number.
Busy Bees celebrate 100 days of school suggests ways of counting the days, and of celebrating when the 100th day arrives. Suggestions include: count and collage 100 items and decorate a cake with 100 candles. There are party suggestions and an original game to play.
The explanatory Celebrating 100 days of school – Letter to parents suggests items that may be suitable for children to bring in and count as part of the 100 days celebration. It is a Word document that can be personalised with your name and class before printing and distributing.
Use the Busy Bees Birthday chart to record children’s birthdays.
Prepare a personalised birthday card for them on their special day using Happy Birthday — an interactive resource to personalise or give them a printable card for them to personalise. Check out the other birthday-themed resources here.
Getting to know the children
Getting to know the children and encouraging them to get to know each other is an important part of establishing a supportive classroom and setting the children up for a successful year.
In Me and My friends children interview each other to find out ways in which they are similar to and different from each other. While it is important to recognise that each child is unique, as they get to know each other, children will come to realise that they have some characteristics in common with others and some that differ. Those characteristics do not make them better or worse. They make them who they are.
It may be a surprise them that, no matter how diverse the population, they will have much in common. Conversely, no matter how seemingly uniform the population, each will differ from others in many ways. Getting to know each other helps children develop an appreciation for both our diversity and the commonality that we share.
Getting to know you surveys and Yes or No class surveys are also great ways for teachers and children to get to know each other at the beginning of the year. Suitable topics occur across the curriculum and are limited only by your imagination. With the incidental development of literacy and mathematical skills, they make an all-round great introduction to school.
Another resource that is useful for getting to each other is Learning about family traditions and celebrations – a unit of work for early childhood which provides a means of gathering information about the families of children in the class.
Additional suggestions related to these can be found previous blog posts; including:
Remember to check out the complete readilearn collection of
over 380 teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.
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