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    first days of school
    By Cathy-Dee

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    Congratulations! I started teaching later in life too, a little earlier than 40, but in my 30's. And I just love it!

    Grade 1 is a fun grade, although a busy one. The first weeks of school tend to be quite slow, the children have more difficulty settling into the routine, are much more tired by late afternoon and miss their moms. I always try to do the bulk of our work during the morning and in the afternoons we have gym, centers, storytime, music, art, things that are more active and allow them to move about.

    Your first day, week, 2-3 weeks, should focus on classroom routines, getting to know one another and doing some basic skills work so that you can get to see where they are as far as printing, counting, knowing their letters, etc., I do not worry too much about seat work during this beginning time. I like to do a lot of one-on-one testing during weeks 3 and 4 to get a really good grasp of who knows what. I use my center time quite a bit for this.

    For the first day, think through how you want to organize their materials, where things will be stored, etc., I write this information on the board so that any parents who come in can help as well. Then about 1/2 hour into the morning I thank the parents who have come and let them know when they can come to pick up their children after school but that I'd like them to head out now to give their child time to get settled into the class. I usually do not have volunteers until at least the third week of school to allow me time to get to know the students and for them to start to settle into my routines.

    A good thing to have for the first day is a colouring page or cut and paste activity page that they should be able to do on their own. This frees you up to deal with any crying children, parents who have questions, supplies, new students, etc., Good themes to start the year include rhymes, nursery rhymes, Dr. Suess, etc.,

    Plan a tour of the school, play name games, get-to-know you games, do a drawing of their first day of school to take home. I also have them do a page of printing their name to keep and use as a guideline of where they started with printing and how they improve over the year.

    I have a web page with ideas from other grade 1 teachers that I compiled if you are interested. It's all about first week and classroom management ideas. Just send me an email. I check my emails everyday.
    Also I belong to a grade one list that is terrific and can send you that information in January once I'm back to work.
    And I have quite a few links you might find useful too on the alphabet, poems, themes, workpages, etc.,

    Hope some of these ideas help.

    Good luck and have fun with your first class!

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