When we receive new kids in our classroom, we want them to be warmly welcomed by the other students and make friends with some of them. However, the experience is usually stressful for the children moving to another school. We have to keep it in mind and plan everything carefully to give them a smooth beginning.
Introducing a new student
Fortunately, I have welcomed several children successfully. One of them was Yam. My students were excited about meeting a new classmate and were very nice to her, so she had an enjoyable experience.
As usual, I did my best to make a good first impression and help Yam feel welcomed when she joined our class and school. First thing first: a friendly conversation with her and her family before her first day at school, to get to know about her life, her interests, and her academic needs. Then, I prepared everything they might need, from relevant information to printed material. I also told my students about their new classmate, and they made welcome cards. I chose possible buddies and first friends for Yam, to sit, play, and work with her. I also planned the activities for her first days with us. I decided to start with team-building games. Everybody loves them! Their favorite game was “Use what you have”. I gave each group the same supplies and asked them to create a tower. The winner was the group with the tallest tower.
Team building activities
I prepared a variety of activities in which Yam had to interact with different classmates, which could help her feel part of the group. We played “Distant dictation,” in which the kids, in pairs, took turns to dictate something they were reading, from the other end of the room. All the students were shouting! What a blast! They also solved some puzzles in groups and discussed the results with the whole class.
It’s not always perfect
Everything was a total success with Yam, but things are not always like that. Unless the children already have friends in their new class, they may be anxious about meeting the other children and their new teachers; or maybe one or more students don’t accept the new classmate. What if this happens?
You will probably need to become involved before a small problem turns into a large one. Keep a watchful eye on the students to observe their interactions. If a student is bothering a new classmate, talk with him privately and help him understand the importance of being tolerant and friendly. And look for opportunities to praise him when he is nice to others. It’s easy when you have EZ Stickerbook to send a sticker as a reward for positive behavior. Remember, you need to support the new student’s emotional well-being, as well as the disruptive child’s.
An effective way for students to interact with each other and celebrate positivity is to give shout-outs, positive comments to their peers. (e.g., I have a shout-out for Alex because he was helping Tom with his spelling.) We want new students to benefit from a welcoming atmosphere and integrate into the group, in which all the children are motivated to learn and enjoy time together.