What to expect for the next 6 to 8 weeks…and yes I said weeks not days.
Often times, as parents, our focus for the start of school is “surviving” the first week.” We prepare, we plan, we buy lots of new things, we might even shed a few tears (I know I did!) The intensity of going back to school and getting through that first week can be exhausting. After the first week, we breathe a collective sigh of relief and, try to, settle into our new school year routines.
As a teacher, my focus is the first 6 to 8 weeks! The first week is often the easiest week. The first week is what I loving refer to as “the honeymoon.” It is the blissful week where everybody is trying extra hard to follow all the rules and directions. But once that week is over, reality sets in, and we see changes. The group has to find its groove…its flow. The children are trying to figure out what we expect, how they want to interact with each other, and how they want to spend their morning. And I am trying to learn about each of them, establish strong routines, and build relationships.
What does this all mean? Two keys points for the first 6 to 8 weeks…
Establish routines: Knowing the routine saves the day.
Think about your own routines during the day. There are many, so let’s start with the first one. Think about how you get from your bed in the morning to your car for work or school drop off. Now break down each piece, truly think about what happens at each point…are you imagining your routine yet? Think about the flow from one step to the next.
This is what we do for weeks- we establish the flow of the room for every aspect of our day. Knowing the routine saves the day. Knowing what is happening now and what comes next brings stability and control. When the children don’t know what is expected of them, they are more likely to struggle. Our routine for the day, our routine for how to wash your cup and plate, our routine for lining up and walking to the park….every aspect of our day is broken down into step by step pieces until it becomes just the way we need it to be. Routines are necessary, and we spend weeks working with the children to build strong routines that we can rely on and build on for the entire year.
Build relationships: This program is developed with community and relationships as cornerstones. Our ability to understand and navigate social interactions help build relationships. We build our classroom community from the first day of school. We play, we share mealtimes, we read books together…we listen…we build trust. We will challenge your children to encourage growth, and if we want them to be successful with our challenging, then they need to trust us. They are building relationships with each other as well. They are constantly learning about each other throughout the day. Who likes trains, who builds with blocks, who draws at the table etc…
The first 2 months is about getting familiar with the space and each other. We start off simple. Short and sweet. Gradually we increase our expectations. We practice our routines, and provide simple directions. Then each day and each week we increase our expectations.
What else happens during this time? They will have opportunities to paint, draw, build, play, and explore. We will talk about all kinds of things, for example black swallowtail caterpillars. (Which BTW are still popping up in our garden we have 3 caterpillars and 5 in chrysalis waiting to change) We have all year, why rush them. I want every child to feel confident in their ability to participate and be successful in their day with us, and it all starts with taking our time.