Being the new child at a school or day care center isn’t easy. There are so many new experiences, rules, and routines to try and adjust to that kids can feel discouraged. They may miss their old, familiar child care center. Or perhaps it’s their first time leaving mom and dad. If so, they’re likely to get a little homesick. As their child care center instructor or director, it’s your job to help them feel as comfortable as possible.
In our first article, we talked about preparing your classroom, getting other students involved in welcoming newcomers, and making sure to set the example with a warm and friendly approach. In this article, we’ll look at other ways you can make your classroom a welcoming, cheerful place for new students and their families.
Go Out of Your Way to Give the New Child and Family Helpful Information
Parents and students feel more at ease in a new situation if they’re given necessary information. Take them on an in-depth classroom tour and explain what activities go on in different areas throughout the day. Carefully explain classroom rules, including behavior incentive systems. Make sure to approach this topic in a positive manner. If they understand your expectations from the get-go, they’ll be more likely to have a smooth transition from their former environment to your classroom. Allow time for them to ask questions and answer them as thoroughly as possible.
Give the New Student a Formal Introduction to the Class
When a new student arrives, take time to formally acknowledge their arrival. Consider what happens when a new staff member is brought into the workplace. They’re given a proper introduction to the rest of the staff. The same courtesy should be afforded to a new child in a child care facility. This gives everyone a chance to learn their name and offer a friendly smile. Before the child enters the classroom, it would be a good idea to role play the introduction with your students so they’ll understand the right way to respond to your introduction. It will help to reassure the child’s parents that you’re teaching your students to have manners and consider other people’s feelings.
Make Sure You Know the Child’s Name
This may sound too basic to have to mention, but mispronouncing or misspelling a name is, sadly, far too common when it comes to new students in child care centers and school classrooms. If the child’s name looks difficult to pronounce or is spelled in an unconventional way, make sure you have the correct pronunciation and spelling memorized in advance. This will send a message that the child is important to you. It also helps the child or their parents avoid the uncomfortable situation of having to correct your mistake in front of the class on the very first day. Even if the name looks fairly straightforward, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the pronunciation correct, because sometimes even traditionally spelled names can be pronounced differently than what you may expect.
Making sure new kids’ families are well informed, giving them a proper introduction to the class, and learning to spell and pronounce their names are all great ways to start off on the right foot with new students. Be sure to read our final article in this series for even more helpful tips on this important topic.