A new school year brings excitement – a chance to start fresh, a sense of structure and routine that is comforting, and even a little concern about the unknown. For most of the children there are new teachers, many faces and names to learn and expectations different from last year.
To ensure that this transition to the new school year is smooth for the children in our classrooms, we are intentionally building a sense of community where they feel safe, cared for and comfortable. We start each day with the “Morning Meeting” where we greet one another and share thoughts and ideas. This time of day helps all the children feel welcome and appreciated. Also, during an activity called “Turn and Talk” the children are paired with a partner and encouraged to practice their speaking and listening skills while connecting with a new friend. Lastly, making a list of “Classroom Promises” together creates a positive environment and gives the children ownership over their new community.
As I visit the classrooms, not only do I see meaningful whole group activities taking place, I also notice the teachers making connections individually by giving hugs, reading a favorite book in the library or facilitating a small group of new friends as they build a tall tower. It’s this combination of whole group community building and individual connections that makes this transition time a bit easier for the children, especially those who may need a little more time to feel comfortable. With consistent intentional community building (and a little patience!), it won’t be long before the classroom feels like home to everyone.