Starting preschool can be an overwhelming life event, not only for the child, but the parents, as well. Here are seven tips to help welcome families and make that transition a little easier.
Teacher Advice for Welcoming Children and Families to the Preschool Classroom
1. Offer an Observation Day
A great way to help parents learn about your preschool is to provide an opportunity to see what your program is all about through first hand experience. Most families are looking for a place that will best suit their child’s individual needs and interests, as well as provide a safe and happy learning environment. Invite families to come in and observe a day in the life of your preschool. Allow them to watch and interact with teachers and students as if they are already a part of your classroom. Finally, set aside time at the end of the day for any questions they should have.
2. Send Out Welcome Letters
Connecting with families helps put everyone at ease. Knowing what to expect as the first day of school approaches will benefit both child and parents. Begin your welcome letter with an introduction of yourself and all the teachers. Go on to provide a short description of what a regular school day will consist of and anything the child may need (change of clothes, pillow, lunch, and so on). Perhaps enclose a calendar of the school year that shows any class trips, school closings or half days. You will want to be sure to include contact information, such as phone number and email, for you and all teachers.
3. Get Family Involved
Offering volunteer opportunities for parents and other family members (such as grandparents, aunts and uncles) is a wonderful way to make students and parents more comfortable in that first year of preschool. From reading a book at story time to helping decorate the classroom, encouraging families to be a part of your school creates a whole new dynamic within the classroom.
4. Communication is Key
Set up a bulletin board for parents and their preschoolers. This will help keep everyone informed of what the latest happenings are. Make sure it is up to date and attention grabbing. Personalize it with pictures of the children, families, and staff. Add some fun facts or ask questions to encourage socializing. For example: Do you know what holiday is in the beginning of September? Labor Day! Turn this question into a topic for group discussion and activities.
5. Be Flexible
Getting used to a new place and a new routine may take some children and families a little longer than others. Be patient while individuals go at their own pace to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings and peers. Giving them time to become comfortable builds long-lasting and trusting relationships between parents and their children.
6. Break the Ice
Give everyone a name tag as they arrive (teachers, too!) After an introduction and quick tour of the preschool classroom, begin with a social circle to break the ice. Have everyone tell their name and one thing about themselves. Maybe ask what their favorite color is or what their favorite food is. Keep it simple and upbeat.
7. Smile, Smile, Smile!
Smiles are contagious. Keep the atmosphere light and inviting by making sure you and your teachers are smiling. New students and families will be put at ease with a simple smile and it makes for the warmest of welcomes.
By setting the stage for open communication and trust, your learning center will soon be filled to capacity.
Tell Us: How do you make students and families feel welcome?