Making Connections From the Start

As teachers, I think we all want to make our new parents and students feel at ease at the beginning of the year. I am constantly racking my brain during the summer to think of different ways I can help my new families feel welcome in my classroom. I mean, dropping your baby off at kindergarten {and being dropped off at kindergarten} is a HUGE deal! It may sound sappy, but it really is like leaving a chunk of your heart with someone else for almost 8 hours a day! {I may or may not have cried leaving my 2 year old at Mother's Morning Out, so I'll be a mess when she starts kindergarten!}
The very first thing I do after getting my class list {and I realize some don't get it until the day of Open House, but I'm blessed to get mine in advance} is write a postcard to each of my kids. Who doesn't love getting mail?!? {You can grab these here for grades prek-5th} These postcards are an easy way to get students and families excited about school!
I also plan on sending more postcards throughout the year. Click the picture below for a copy of the generic postcard :). 
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B07U2jkTYFjJXzlSd2dSU1EtWUk/view?usp=sharing

At my school, we first meet parents at Parent Orientation. We have orientation on a Thursday night {before school starts on Monday}, and only parents attend. When parents walk in, I make sure my room looks clean {even it means shoving tons of stuff into the closet 30 minutes before} and inviting. Parents sit at their child's seat, and I have this sitting on their desk.
The folder has the 1,000 forms {not really, but close - ha!} that parents need to fill out and return. The orange card on top is the one thing I have them fill out that night and return before they leave. I also have them fill out this transportation form before they leave.
I am a fanatic when it comes to knowing how kids go home, so by getting this paper before school starts, I can be ahead! You can grab the info card, transportation sheet, and a questionnaire here. The transportation sheet is specific to my school, but you may be able to use it :).
I also have a little gift for the parents. It's nothing fancy, and an idea I got from the teacher I mentored with in high school, but it's thoughtful, and parents appreciate it. They love that a little extra time was taken to make them feel welcomed. I buy a big bag of apples, use some tulle I already have, and a cute tag {you can grab it here}.
The next day, we have Open House for students to meet their teachers. It is always such a crazy day, and I often feel like I don't get to spend enough time with each family. To help me feel better about making parents and students feel positive about the new year, I have this little set-up at their seat.
This is where I did spend a little more money than I probably should have, but after hearing all the sweet comments from families, it was more than worth it! I gave my kiddos two Mr. Sketch markers {they love them}, and usually I attach a balloon to the smelly markers. However, this year, I wanted something a little more personal, and I decided to give each family a book. I was able to get The Night Before Kindergarten on Amazon for fairly cheap {if you couldn't spend that much at one time, you could order a few each month during the year and save them for next year}, and I wrote a little note inside each book. I'm telling y'all - parents appreciated this more than I ever expected! They read it, and sprinkled their ready confetti {I got this idea from Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade - the confetti is inside the card with a sweet poem} the night before school started and many told me it was a sweet way to celebrate school starting together with their child.

The last way I try to make the transition into kindergarten special and meaningful, is to have one last thing for parents on the first day of school. In my school, parents can bring their child to class the first day. When families walk in, there is a nametag, coloring page {from my Let's Get it Started pack}, and a pack of tissues for parents. The tissues have a little poem attached {grab it here and here - there are separate boy and girl versions}, and it gets them every year!
I know it may seem like a lot, but I truly think putting in the extra effort at the beginning {even when you're tired behind tired} really does set the tone for the year, and parents and students will appreciate it!

4 comments

  1. Love it!!! Especially the confetti!!!!

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  2. These are great ways to build relationships with families right from the beginning. Thank you for sharing them with us! Best wishes for a great school year.

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  3. I love all of these ideas! Thank you.

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  4. Do you have an edited version of the postcard that reads "Welcome to PRESCHOOL" instead of Pre-K?

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