(With week 1 under the belt and feeling like the anxiety has turned into enthusiasm.)
It was a good thing that I've saved the lesson plans for first days of school of the last couple of years. These help me to compare and plan and remember about first weeks and what I'm supposed to be focusing on, which is (in my case), mainly practical life and grace and courtesy.
Since we have so many newcomers this year (11 new children and most of them just 3 years old), at this point it's all about laying the foundation for future work.
Someone out there asked me for it, so here is the general grace and courtesy list that I'm using (and of course modifying according to the need I see in the classroom):
- How to enter the classroom
- How to wash hands at the sink
- How to have snack
- How to use the bathroom
- How to work on a table
- How to work on a rug
- How to observe someone working at a table
- How to observe someone working at a rug
- How to come to group lessons
- How to sit for group lessons
- How to stand in line to wash hands, wash dishes, use the bathroom
- How to walk around a rug
- How to get the teacher's attention (hand on the shoulder)
This is most of what we worked on last week. I enlist the help of the returning children when giving these lessons #1 to remind them of the lessons #2 acknowledging a bit of seniority to the older children (I put a word in about the responsibility of being role models for the new children)
Now our second week is coming up, so after observing the results of these lessons I refine these basic grace and courtesies and add what we saw problems with. So this week, for example, I'll be showing how to get up and sit down gracefully from the floor, how to tuck in your chair soundlessly, and try to fix the glitches like "how to turn the bathroom sign back to "GO" after you use the bathroom."
And from here on it's all refinement and continuing to strengthen the foundation all while trying to keep things fun... adding movement games here and there certainly helps me keep the youngest ones with me.
Every day I'm adding a few more materials onto the shelves now that I see that the new children are understanding the rule of not taking something they don't have a lesson with. I pick carefully what to add each day because it is like resurrecting a material... things like the shoe lace frame which in my classroom was gathering dust for weeks at the end of the year is being used with love when there are no other dressing frames available. (Insert evil laughter here)