Children can have a hard time transitioning from one activity or routine to another, and for many children, the hardest transition they will go through is the necessary shift from being at home to entering the classroom.
Children experience separation anxiety during this transition, which is normal and very common. Teachers can, however, help children avoid the severe emotional distress they feel during this time by adding a few welcome activities to their routines.
The two welcome activities included in this article will help ease children’s separation anxiety and prepare them for learning as they make the transition from leaving home or their primary caregivers to entering the classroom.
A Welcome Note
- Note cards
What to do
- Before school starts for the year, write a short note to each child welcoming her to your classroom.
- Include in your note what they should expect the first day of school and some of the things the class will be doing.
- For preschoolers, you might want to include photos of yourself and other staff. Ask parents to review who the people in the photos are before school starts. By the time the child arrives at school, she can already be familiar with the staff and have an increased comfort level.
- Mail the letters home to each child. Children love receiving letters in the family mailbox. Note: You can also use interesting postcards instead. They are less expensive to mail and are still fun for the children.
- If possible, use interesting stamps.
More to do
Follow up with a unit about the post office, letter carriers, and writing letters to someone. Let the children send a note to a friend, family member, or classmate.
- Class pet (mouse, guinea pig, fish)
- Pet supplies and food
What to do
- When a child has a hard time separating from a parent in the morning, a class pet really helps.
- Give the children food to feed the pet when they arrive, such as carrots for a guinea pig.
- This lets children feel helpful and ready to begin the day.
- Create a home-school connection by asking the children to bring in food for the class pet.
- Scented Candle
What to do
- When you arrive in the morning, light a scented candle. Nice scents to use are vanilla or cookie dough.
- Blow out the candle before the children arrive. When they arrive, the room has a very warm and inviting smell.
For more welcome activities and activities you can use for other transition times throughout the day, such as cleanup time, departure, and story time, check out The GIANT Encyclopedia of Transition Activities for Children 3 to 6: Over 600 Activities Created by Teachers for Teachers.