If you’re like most teachers, you want to get students excited for school before it even starts. This helps them overcome the nerves associated with heading back to school, and helps you forge a relationship with kids who will be yours for a year. Here are four ideas for connecting with your kids before the big first day.
Send a Welcome Letter
First and foremost, you’ve got to greet your students, right? A welcome letter can help them develop the “flavor” of your classroom and get excited for what it will be like to spend a year with you. Are you the crazy teacher? The science teacher? The artsy teacher? The outdoorsy teacher? Do you love gym or reading? Do you promise to show them how fun math is? Give a few teasers for the year that’s in store for students, and they’ll look forward to it more.
Play a Guessing Game
Another way to engage with kids early is to play a guessing game. For instance, you might send a postcard with a picture of you somewhere in the world and have students guess where you are. Explain in the postcard that they can use any means at their disposal, such as the library or the Internet, to figure out where you are, and tell them you’ve left clues in the picture. (Maybe the Eiffel Tower is in the background, for instance.) When the year begins, you can ask kids to compare ideas and give their best guesses.
Assign a Fun Book to Read
The key here is fun! Asking students to read something that requires a lot of time or effort – or worse, assigning a lengthy composition to go with it – won’t get you in their good graces. Instead, choose one of your favorite books and tell a little bit about it in a letter. Then ask kids to read it on their own or with parents, and save their ideas for the start of school, because you’ll want to hear aaaallll about them.
Send a Supply List for Students to Help With
Teachers often send supply lists home during the first week of school, but you can mail yours out ahead of time to get students jazzed on the back-to-school vibes associated with shopping for supplies. Of course, in the digital age, parents might prefer to order school supplies from the comfort of their living rooms or desks. Even if this case, there’s no reason students shouldn’t be able to help. Send a list that includes suggestions for where to get good deals, such as Classroom Direct. On this site you can find composition notebooks, art paper, pencils and so much more.
Going back to school can be both thrilling and nerve-wracking, for you and the kids. Finding ways to connect with your students before you even meet them can help smooth the road to the school year and ensure it’s a great one.