Today I'm joining in with a fun linky to share some tips for a FABULOUS first day of Prep! Once you've read my post, be sure to head over and visit Oz Curriculum HQ to collect even more great ideas.
First up, here's a few ideas to help you 'Set the Scene'. In other words, what you need to do to make sure your classroom is ready for your new kidlets! One of the most valuable things you can spend your time on before school starts is setting up your room so it will be useable for the different activities you will want to do with your class. You're probably thinking posters, decor, cute rugs on the floor... All that stuff is great but you can add them in time. Decide what areas of your room you will need set up and get all the furniture in place. Have the bulk of your resources stored so they are near where you will be using them. Add children's work, anchor charts and colourful decorations as the term goes on. I wrote a post earlier this week with some more ideas you might like to check out.
Make sure to spend some time before you meet your class getting to know as much about them as you can. Read their kindy or previous school year reports (you may even have an enrolment file to look at) and make notes about anything significant that you might need to plan for. Perhaps some children have medical issues, some will have family situations to be mindful of - and maybe you might even get an insight into their interests so you can plan activities to suit.
Most importantly - make sure you have your head (somewhat) around your curriculum for the first few weeks of term. I'm never that great at planning too far ahead, but I always (mostly) have the full week ahead planned out lesson by lesson and then notes beside the coming weeks when I have an idea that will fit. The start of the year will fly by and if you're planning on the hop you might find yourself suddenly in Week 4 with lots of catching up to do. Trust me - I've been there, done that! :)
Next up, what to do 'When Students Arrive'? If you teach Prep like me, you need to know that each child will have at least one, most likely two, probably more, adults with them on their first day. To minimise the chaos, have signs up to let parents know what they need to be doing. You can only talk to one child and their family at a time so make sure it's clear to others what they should be doing when you're chatting to someone else. I like to have bag lockers and desks labelled so kidlets know where to store their belongings, and then I put a simple colouring in out for them to work on while everyone arrives. Once everyone is there and first day photos have been taken I ring the bell and say "It's time to get started! Say goodbye to Mum and Dad. We're going to meet on the carpet and have some fun!" Make it clear that once the day starts, visitors need to leave - I usually only give it 20 minutes before I start the day. That sounds harsh, but honestly some will want to stay all day! You will need to make allowances of course for children who are having trouble saying goodbye - but if you keep the room calm and relaxed you won't have a problem.
One of the big jobs you'll have on the first day is dealing with 'Equipment'. The easiest way to solve this problem is to ask parents to leave the whole bag of books and stationery under their child's desk (or somewhere else if you have room). Have a few spare plastic bags just in case. Print out a class set of booklists and during the first day or two go through each bag and check that everyone has what they need. If not, you can ask parents to bring in the missing items before you're going to need them. As you unpack each bag you can organise the equipment into chair bags, tubs or trays.
Lucky last - 'First Day Activities'! The first day of Prep is overwhelming for kidlets and the teacher. You want to keep your class busy and engaged without exhausting them more than necessary. Make sure to take time to tour the classroom and lunch/play areas so that children feel comfortable. Once everyone's settled, keep the rest of your lessons fun but relaxed. Remember that most of your class will have never worked at their own desk or glued into a scrapbook, and their scissor skills might be poor. Don't try to do all the 'new' things on the first day. :) I like to read 'The Kissing Hand' and have the children paint their hand to print. They then glue a heart in the middle of it and I include this poem from Camp Kindergarten:
We also do our 'Monster Manners' - I posted about that here earlier this week. Apart from that we go lots of singing, simple games and stories as well as snack and toilet breaks. In the last session I like to have free choice play time - most kidlets will be exhausted by then and you can learn lots about their little personalities by watching them play and interact with others. :)