Preschool is a child’s first formal school experience, designed to prepare the little one for elementary school and beyond. The first day of preschool can be slightly rough for many children who are leaving the familiar environment of their homes for the first time and interacting with other children their age. A preschool teacher’s role on the first day is to incorporate entertaining activities that will ease any child’s anxiety and boost her confidence so she feels safe enough to explore and use her imagination.
The teacher should create colorful paper name tags for each child and tape them to each child's lapel before the class starts. Incorporate a name game activity or welcome song, such as singing the names of the children in turn to get them familiar with one another’s names. Sit the children in a circle and have them chant a line or two that you prepared while clapping their hands. Pick the tune from a famous nursery rhyme or create your own that the children will eventually learn through repetition. A simple chant such as, “Child’s Name, how are you? Who’s that sitting beside you?” is suitable for starting the day. The chant starts and ends with the teacher, who also sits in the circle with the children.
Familiarizing the children with each other can make a fun activity for the first day. The teacher should encourage each child to tell others a few things about herself. The teacher or the teacher’s assistant can pass a toy microphone around the class so every child gets a turn to speak while the others listen. After each child finishes, the teacher can ask the class to clap.
For most preschoolers, the first day in class is their first experience of a structured environment; therefore, showing them their surroundings acclimates the children and makes them feel safe and comfortable. Begin by showing them the classroom and all the sections it includes, such as the cabinets for lunchboxes, the rug around which they will sit during story time, the section where they make crafts, and other areas. The teacher can also take them for a tour outside the class to show them the playground, the bathrooms and the gate. She can also explain rules of acceptable behavior during the tour, such as taking turns on swings, washing hands after using the toilet, and making lines when leaving class.
The teacher can include a simple activity for the first day, such as helping the children create identification tags for their desks or cupboards, or coloring and embellishing a cutout to display at home. Hand out the cutouts to each child along with several colored pencils. Once the children finish coloring, they can spread glue over the paper and add decorative accents all over it. The teacher can then help them finish the project by writing their name over the tag, or behind the craft if taking it home.