How to Teach a Good First Day of Class in Primary School

First days of school can be a whirlwind, so the best way to cope is to overprepare. For the next six hours or so, you’re about to shape the way your children see you for the next 46 weeks. No pressure then. Here’s your essential checklist.

Have an activity ready

Before you get to meet the little cherubs, it’s nice to have something on every desk for them to be getting on with. Something simple like a word search or a spot the difference puzzle is fine – it’s just to get them engaged from the moment they sit down. They’re probably more interested in talking about their summer holidays, so something like this is essential.

Smile and greet the children

Stand by the door and say hello to each child individually as they enter. You might not know any of their names yet, and they might not even know yours, but a friendly greeting goes a long way to breaking the ice. Tell them to go and find their seats, sit down and start the puzzle you’ve put out for them.

Ask children to introduce themselves

Once the puzzles are done and everyone is settled. Write your name on the board and ask the children one by one stand up and say their name, and one thing that they love doing.

Tell them about yourself

Now tell them a little bit about yourself. Where you were born, where you live, whether you have children or pets, and what you love doing outside school. Let them know you’re a person too.

Any questions?

You can now have a brief question and answer session, where kids can ask anything they want about the school. You might be new there yourself, so do your best to answer, but if you don’t know an answer yourself, let them know that you’re going to be finding out the answer together.

Quiet time

The curriculum will begin on day one, so you’ll be making a start on that within the first hour, and letting them know about that term’s special projects. But at some point (just after lunch is best), make sure they have 15–20 minutes’ reading time. They can get a book from the library or one from the classroom, but those moment of calm are valuable.

Establish your rules

Another first day essential is to establish what kind of teacher you are. With primary students, you have to be open, kind and understanding, but your authority should never be in question. So let them know that you are always there if they have any worries or questions, about school or the outside world, but note that you will not tolerate disruption and naughtiness. If you say stop talking, they have to zip it.

If you’re employing a reward system, your first day is when you unveil it to them. It will tie in with your general attitude to discipline, rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad. Let them know early on what rewards await those who try hard, observe good discipline and produce excellent work.

Treat yourself

It’s good manners to stop off at the shop on the way home and get yourself a little something to toast your new school year, whether that’s the bottled variety or something sweet. You’ve earned it.

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