We’ve all been the new kid at some point in our lives—being in a new and unfamiliar environment is difficult! For many children, the anxiety sticks around for several days and can have a real impact on their learning. But you, as their teacher, can welcome new students with the joy of Jesus and make the transition a little bit easier.
Here are a few tips to help the new kids in your classroom feel welcome this year:
At the beginning of the year:
Start with a seating chart. If you allow students to choose where to sit right away, it creates an uncomfortable situation for the student who doesn’t have close friends yet. Assign seats so that no one is left out.
Put names on the desks. Depending on the age of your students, put names on their desks or have them make paper tents and write their own names. This will help you identify each student by name and help the students learn each other’s names faster.
Introduce yourself. Share a little bit about yourself with your students. This will help them connect with you on a friendly, personal level.
Choose groups. Especially at the beginning of the year, make a point to choose learning groups for them, either randomly or with intention. Avoid any situation that leaves one student feeling left out.
For new students joining midyear:
Put names up again. Coming into a class midway through the year can be daunting. Help your new student by having all your other students put names on their desks again.
Provide a buddy. Choose someone reliable and friendly to eat lunch with your new student. The buddy can help him or her learn procedures and find rooms within the school building.
Create an introduction or welcome packet. Make a list of classroom rules and procedures, classmates’ names, a seating chart, and anything else that will help your new student excel in the classroom.
Be available. Make sure your new student knows that he or she can ask you questions.
Who else to ask? Although you want to be available, there are times when you just can’t be there. Give your new student a list of other reliable students who will be able to help.
Connect with parents. You can provide help and give your new student the freedom to come to you, but he or she may still not be comfortable. Make a point to keep the lines of communication open with the parents. If there is a problem, encourage them to come to you right away.
Remember, the most important step for all students, new and old, is to pray! Pray for them and, as often as possible, pray with them.
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