The first month of preschool
The first month of preschool is busy for everyone. New schools, new classrooms, and new people. Teachers are getting to know the children in their class and are becoming aware of their interests and learning habits.
Parents and guardians helping children get to school on time and remembering to pack everything! Headteachers making sure things are running smoothly. What about the little ones? Maybe they’ll be transitioning to their first preschool or nursery experience. Perhaps it’ll be a new class or a new school.
Here are some things you can expect your child and their teachers to be doing during the first month of preschool.
Getting to know you
This will be some children’s first preschool experience and it’s a big thing! Hopefully, your child has already had the chance to meet their new teacher, and now it’s time for them to get acquainted. As I speak about in my adaptation post, children need to develop a relationship with their teacher to feel comfortable, safe, and happy. This will include the teacher learning about what each child likes, what they like to play with, and how they are comforted when (understandably) they miss their parents.
For children returning from their summer holidays, it’ll have felt like a lot of time has passed and they may have, depending on their age, forgotten a lot about preschool.
Teachers need to make children feel welcome in their new class. They must also remember that, even though these children have been to preschool before, it’s still a new class, a new teacher, and there are many new experiences to be had!
A great way for teachers to get to know children in the first month of preschool is through play. With new students, this would ideally happen in small groups so that they are not overwhelmed and teachers can observe them with fewer children around.
Free play is a great time for a teacher to get to know their new students. In small groups, if possible, teachers can see what interests the children in their class. This can be used for planning activities and lessons and will help everyone enjoy their learning.
For children, this informal play helps them feel relaxed in their new environment and see that preschool is a fun place to be. This does take time but I have had a lot of success getting children comfortable by inviting them for free play time before having them visit and experience the rest – and more structured part – of the day.
Themes for the first month
The first month of school is all about getting to know each other and this is often done through themes. Many preschools use themes and topics to plan their daily activities around. Here are some that your little one may experience throughout September:
- Getting to know you – this is a great theme for the first week or two of school. The freedom of this topic allows teachers and children to get to know the rules of the classroom, what we like and what we don’t, and get an insight into how children like to play and learn.
- All about me! – this is another good theme which can be used in any classroom, I believe. Our smallest friends (1-2 years old) may just have their hand-painted and print it onto a piece of paper. And our biggest preschoolers can try and draw pictures of themselves and what they like as part of an “all about me” book or collage.
- My family – I’ve had so much fun with this theme in the past and, with older children, have invited parents into the classroom to make family trees. With younger children, they can bring in pictures of their families and create really cute art projects that can be taken home or remain in the classroom throughout the year.
Songs for the first month
I’ve mentioned (many times) before how much I love using songs and how effective they are for teaching language, establishing and solidifying routines, and for having fun.
When trying to establish a routine with children, songs are great. As I often share with parents enrolling their child in school; children get to know and understand what is coming next because they recognize the melody and words in songs. This is especially important in classrooms and schools where children are not familiar with the language.
In a preschool classroom, we introduce good morning songs which let children know what to expect in circle time. When washing our hands or going for a snack, there is a song for this too!
Important introductions for the first month of preschool
As well as adapting the new children to their classes during their first month of school, it is also very important to set a routine. The routine should be followed throughout the year so that children feel comfortable. This is especially important in an international environment, even if they can not understand the language, the children come to expect what is going to happen next.
Alongside the routine, I also believe it’s very important to establish rules from the start as well. Children should understand the expectations in the classroom – walking feet rather than running, inside voices rather than shouting, etc. If children learn these easy-to-adhere-to directions from the beginning, it then opens up the possibility to teach other important skills.
Important skills for the first month of preschool
In general, I believe all self-care skills should be introduced in the first month of preschool. Each child should know where to find tissues, where their water bottle is (or where they can take a cup of water), where their cubby is, where the bathroom is, and so on. Not only does this help teach independence, but it also helps children feel secure and comfortable in their own space.
As you know, teaching independence is very important for me and I have seen the great outcomes from this many times. From the start of the school year – even when I’ve had 2-year-olds in my class – we practice washing our own hands, putting our own shoes on, and putting our own coats on. These are all things that are within our small friends’ capabilities and they are so proud to show off that they can do things for themselves. I personally love it when a parent sees their child try to put their own coat or shoes on!
As the first month of preschool goes on, we see great improvements in every child. These improvements may not be the same for each child, and every child has different goals and milestones. We must remember that going to preschool is a big step for every child and to give them time to adjust. Hopefully, that will go fast and we can get on with the most important part of preschool: having fun!
How is the first month going for your little one? I hope it’s been full of fun and adventure!
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