As students move on to new classrooms and are getting to know new teachers, I find that it helps to go the extra mile to make them feel welcomed. This is especially true for brand-new families to the school. Here are a few ways we try to make students & their families feel welcomed & important in our class.
#1 Inviting & Cozy Environment
I have the privilege of joining a classroom that has already been decorated with a cozy “owl” theme with pretty lights, lamps, comfy rug, cozy closet, artificial plants, and this amazing tree! It really gives the room an inviting feel. We play quiet background music at times which gives the class a relaxing coffee shop feel. (Can’t take credit for the interior designing but must share these tips!)
#2 Student Gifts
On the first day of school, we welcome the students by placing welcoming gifts for them on their desks. We also had a “goodie bag” (not shown in photo) with fruit snacks, a bookmark, pencil, and stress ball. They get so excited to open things, it almost doesn’t matter what they get because they know it’s the ‘thought that counts’. I also try to give small ‘welcome back’ gifts after breaks, and special holiday & birthday ones too.
#3 Bloomz Parent-Communication App
Another way to welcome parents into our daily class happenings and their child’s social and academic progress, is through the Bloomz communication app. Here parents can see photos, get up to date information, and even track their child’s positive behavior. The idea is to allow parents to be involved and informed through the convenience of their smartphones, keeping them in “the loop” of our class community.
#4 Post student work & photos around the room/school
Having the students’ work (ie. art, projects) displayed makes them feel proud to be part of our learning community. It also gives families & other students a peek into what we’re involved in. We have framed photos of our students with their classmates displayed around the room. It reminds them that we are like ‘family’ in our class, and we all belong.
#5 Parent Volunteers
The final welcome tip is to invite parents to take part in volunteering to help you in your class in some capacity. Whether it is through class donation, or devoting their time to making copies, preparing materials for lessons or projects, or chaperoning on trips, many parents love to feel needed (and they truly are!). It can sometimes feel like more work to organize parent volunteers, but it WILL pay off to elicit the help and makes families feel like a welcomed and essential member of the class.
Hope you find these tips useful as you strive to create a welcoming classroom community, making students and parents feel a sense of belonging.