6 Ways Elementary School Teachers Can Welcome Students Back to School

Ideas and Activities to Help Students Settle in

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As soon as your students set foot in the classroom on the first day of school, it's important to make them feel welcome and comfortable. Students spend the majority of their day in the classroom and the more you can do to make it feel like a second home, the better. Here are the top 6 ways to welcome students back to school after a long summer break.

1. Send Home a Welcome Packet

A few weeks before school starts, send home a welcome letter introducing yourself.

Include things like: how many pets you have, if you have children, things you like to do outside of school. This will help students (and their parents) connect with you on a personal level. You can also include specific information in the packet such as supplies needed, the expectations you have for them throughout the year, class schedule and rules, etc. so they are prepared ahead of time. This welcome packet will help put students at ease and help alleviate those first day jitters that they might have.

2. Create an Inviting Classroom

One of the easiest ways to welcome students is to create an inviting classroom. Your classroom should feel warm and inviting from the second they enter the door on day one. A great way for students to feel like their classroom is "theirs" is to include them in the classroom decorating process. During the first weeks back to school, encourage students to create drawings and projects that can be displayed in the classroom.

3. Conduct a Teacher Interview

Even if you've  provided some basic information about yourself in the welcome packet, students may still have a few questions once they get to the classroom. On the first day of school, have students partner up and prepare a few questions for a personal interview with you.

Once each interview is over, gather the class as a whole and have each team choose their favorite question and answer to share with the rest of the class.

4. Provide a Story

Beginning on the first day of school, set the mood each morning with a story. The first few weeks, students may be feeling uneasy and insecure. To alleviate these feelings and let students know that they are not feeling alone, choose a different story each morning. Books are a great way to open up communication about how the students are feeling. Here are a few recommended books to use during the first week of school.

  • First Day Jitters, By Julie Dannenberg
  • Splat the Cat: Back to School, Splat! by Rob Scotton
  • Back to School Rules, By Laurie B. Freidman
  • The Night Before First Grade, By Natasha Wing
  • How I Spent My Summer Vacation, By Mark Teague

5. Create a Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt can help students become familiar with their new classroom. For younger students, create a list with pictured clues that they need to find and check off as they go. Include items such as find the puzzles, book corner, cubbie, etc. For the older students, create a checklist and list things such as look for the homework basket, look for the class rules, etc.

Continue with items to find in and around the classroom. Once the scavenger hunt is completed, have them hand their completed sheet in for a prize. 

6. Provide Ice Breaker Activities

The first day of school can be very awkward when students do not recognize any familiar faces. To "break the ice" and thaw out some of the first day jitters, provide a few fun activities like "two truths and a lie", a human scavenger hunt, or trivia.