It can be tough for a new student to fit in right away mid-year, but the steps you take to prepare, onboard and welcome your new arrival set the tone for the entire class and ensure that things go smoothly for all.
Prepare a Space
You should know about your new arrival before the student shows up. Having a cubby or locker, seat assignment and even a space on the class chore spot helps the new child fit in quickly. Make sure the nametag you use match the ones used for the rest of the class, or use this opportunity to switch over to your next theme; your student will feel like part of the group if they have the same elements as everyone else.
Let the class know about the new arrival and decide on a way to welcome them, together. A banner, bulletin board or even cards builds excitement about the new student and allows your current students to see them as a new friend, not as competition or an outsider. Equipping everyone with nametags makes it easier for your new student to learn their classmates’ names.
Assign a Shadow
You already know the right student for this job – the one who always follows the schedule, goes out of his or her way to be kind, and navigates their own assignments with ease. Pairing the new child with a confident and experienced classmate can provide added insight into how the class works and ensures they are not left standing alone, trying to figure out what to do next during transition or down times.
Some students will feel just fine sharing their likes, dislikes and hobbies with the class – others will be embarrassed to do so. Asking a few of your more outgoing students to take the spotlight first or creating a group icebreaker activity allows your new student to learn more about the class and how much they have in common with their new classmates. Asking about favorite colors, foods, activities and hobbies helps break the ice and ensures your new student finds some common ground with the class, too.
There’s a lot to take in and learn when a new student arrives, but the way you welcome that child can mean the difference between success and failure. No matter what methods you choose to welcome your new student, set aside some time a few weeks after arrival to check in with the child and their parents to be sure they are feeling comfortable and at home in your classroom.