For many parents, preschool is their child's first school experience and possibly the first time their child has spent a significant amount of time away from them. For these reasons, parents usually are understandably nervous about what their child's day will be like at preschool. Your preschool orientation should give parents a chance to meet you and the other teachers, to learn about how the school is run and to get a feel for what their child will experience.
Give Them a Warm Welcome
Make each preschooler feel special and anticipate school by creating a warm welcome for them. Decorate your door or bulletin board with a special theme and include each child's name. For example, you might design a bulletin board that reads, "Welcome Mrs. Biddle's Busy Bees!" and has some cutouts of bees on it. Write each child's name on a bee. Another way to make each child feel welcome is to place a little welcome gift on his table or cubby, such as a little teddy bear -- call them their "school buddies" -- or a board book. Visit a thrift store or dollar store for inexpensive stuffed animals and other small toys.
Prepare a Speech
The parents will want to hear you speak and will likely have questions for you. Prepare a short speech to introduce yourself. Cover your educational background and experience and include a few personal facts about yourself, such as the ages of your own children, if you have any. Describe a typical day in your classroom, and touch on policies and procedures. Save time for questions at the end.
Distribute a Handbook
Type up a welcome letter, daily and weekly schedules, school year calendar and the school's policies and procedures; present it to the parents as a handbook. You probably don't want to go through the entire handbook at the orientation, but you can review the basics during the speech if you wish. Encourage parents to contact you if they have any questions after reading the handbook. Save copies of the handbook for any parents who are unable to attend orientation.
Plan to Explore
Give parents and their children a chance to explore the classroom. Most preschools have activity centers that encourage exploratory play and art and craft activities. One way to do this is to create a simple scavenger hunt. Write it on a white board or print it and pass it out to the parents. Include things like "Find where we will read stories!" or "Find the blocks and make a stack of three blocks." Once the parents and children have completed the scavenger hunt, give each child a sticker. Or, just let the children have free exploratory time after you have given your welcome speech.
Create Lasting Memories
Set aside a time for pictures. Parents will want to take photos of you and their child, and orientation can be a good time to get that out of the way. Otherwise, your first day of school might be taken up with picture-taking. Set up a photo corner, which might consist of a piece of plain butcher paper taped to the wall. You could include a growth chart so parents can take one photo at the beginning and end of the year and see how much their child has grown. Make a sign with your name or the school's name and the school year.
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