Back to School: Engaging Young Children and Building Relationships
It is a new year, with new children, and new possibilities. The beginning of the school year is an exciting time filled with anticipation of all the great things that will be achievable this year. Your classroom will be filled with young children of different sizes, shapes, races, and backgrounds. One of the challenges for us, as early childhood educators, is to discover their interests, capabilities, and potential. To do so, we must become careful observers. I encourage you to listen to their conversations, and pose questions that will help you to determine each of their unique abilities.
During the first days we work to establish a positive relationship with each child. One way to do this is by greeting them personally, engaging them in conversations and listening to their ideas. These are important ways to build this growing relationship. The children will recognize that their carefully designed environment supports them as active learners. It provides choices to follow their interest, and includes materials that capture their curiosity.
New Elements for Beginning the School Year
- Natural materials collected from the area where you and the children live. These are clustered together to be examined and explored by each of the children at their own unique pace. These familiar items provide a connection to their surroundings and expand understandings.
- Pictures of each child that can be touched, viewed, and arranged in an interesting design. Each child’s picture can be mounted on a wooden block that can be manipulated and moved during play. This helps the children to begin to recognize their classroom as a community of learners, and see themselves as an important member of this group.
- Include an exciting collection of books that matches their level of development and interest. Display these books in the Library Area, while including pillows, rugs, soft seating, and a place to listen to stories on tape. In this area they can lounge and read independently, or with a new friend.
- A quiet place where they can relax when the excitement of the day, the many activities, and interactions with other children may make them tired. When you are overstimulated as a result of tiredness or hunger, you may become irritable, and this is certainly true with young children. This calming place can be visited and enjoyed as needed.
Enjoying the beginning of the school year and appreciating each of sparkling young children who make up your classroom community, will make this a wonderful year for YOU!