I was reflecting back to the beginning of the year and thought I’d share what we do. At the beginning of the school year we try to make the children feel as comfortable as possible so they feel safe and secure (EYLF 1.1 – Children feel safe, secure, and supported). We want then to feel part of the group and that they belong. We would always start the first day with the Hokey Pokey as its loud, fun and interactive. Before school started this year I was thinking about the song and how it is probably a little bit scary for children who are nervous to start with so we replaced it with Mr Clicketty Cane by Peter Combe.
I believe the change was a success. A few children looked at me a little strangely when I started singing “Wash your face with orange juice” and then laughing my head off. The laughter is infectious though and soon they were all joining in, laughing at fixing the fence with sticky tape and demanding to sing the song again.
Then there are the systems and routines we put in place at the start of the year to make life easier for ourselves and the children. Each child has their own basket where they store their hats, jackets if need be and any take home work. The baskets are cleared at the end of each day. The children pack the work in their bags themselves. Teaching the children how to do this is a task in itself! Each basket is labelled with the child’s first name (large) and surname (smaller underneath). This name is attached with velcro so the child can remove the name and take it to the activity tables to copy when writing their name on their work. Each basket has a different animal picture on so that children are able to easily recognise their basket if they are still unable to recognise their name. Underneath the baskets there is a matching picture Contacted onto the shelf to make it easy for the children to replace their basket once they have packed their bags. Their name tags and glue tag pockets have the same picture also. The glue tag pockets are library pockets with the children’s names printed out and put in them. Instead of trying to write the child’s name somewhere on their constructions from the tinkering table they just pull a glue tag out and stick it to their work.
One of the other systems we have in place is name cards for fruit time. We do this to encourage name recognition. The name cards are placed in front of a chair at the tables and the children have to find their name and sit at that spot. This also allows us to separate children who are not yet able to sit next to another child while maintaining an acceptable fruit time behaviour. It also allows us to mix the group up a bit and get the children to interact with children they might not naturally interact with. Its a good visual way for us to assess who is not able to recognise their name yet as well. We ask the children to trace over their names with their finger while they are waiting for the other children to finish washing their hands and come to the fruit table. This not only gives them something constructive to do while they are waiting but it also increases their fine motor skills and assists them in being able to write their name. We have a second name card that is similar except for the fact that the writing is grey instead of black. These name cards are for name writing practice. They’re laminated and kept on a shelf with white board markers and felt to clean them with. The children have access to them whenever they want and on occasion we will put them on an activity table.
These simple things we do make the running of our class smoother, they establish routines for the children and help to make the class a safe and secure environment for everyone.