It’s that favourite time of year again – get ready for the freshly sharpened pencils and brand-new backpacks. Sometimes after a long summer playing in the sun, learning brains can have a hard time bouncing back. Students of all learning abilities and styles need some time – and resources – to adjust to a new learning environment. Back to school can be difficult; lots of students and teachers alike are nervous and feel uncomfortable about starting a new year. Preparing properly for a new year with the right resources, products, and information can help put your mind at ease.
As educators, it’s important to make every student feel included and encouraged when participating in class. Inclusive education is all about how we develop and design our schools, classrooms, and programs with the right tools so that all students can learn and participate together. This can come to life when neighbourhood schools support learning and contributing to all aspects of the life of the school and all students.
How can I help students adapt to their new learning environment?
Using inclusive resources helps create an environment that ensures successful learning for all students and encourages students to fully participate in learning activities. Students all have unique needs when it comes to learning, so providing options for all students to achieve the best possible is a must have.
-For young students especially, representation is important. Offering dolls with different abilities and ethnic backgrounds can help young ones feel included. The friends with diverse abilities helps teach about positive and inclusive attitudes towards those with physical challenges.
–The Down Syndrome Baby Dolls are a wonderful resource for little ones when it comes to inclusion. These anatomically correct dolls raise awareness of diversity and inclusion with differing types of people. They promote values of acceptance, equality, and integration within your class. It helps educate children and makes them aware of various abilities and disabilities while teaching them to be respectful and inclusive.
-Students can have a hard time focusing during class, which is where bouncyband can certainly come in handy. Bouncy Bands enable kids to have an outlet for excess energy while working, alleviating anxiety, hyperactivity, and boredom, and increasing focus and performance. Extra focus can lead to higher grades and better performance! The patented design keeps the bands elevated for continuous silent use, preventing them from distracting other students. Inclusive education options like this are important to keep leaners engaged.
–Bean bag chairs are a great way to set up a safe space for relaxing and reading. Bean bag chairs are lightweight and are great for individual or social seating, and their cover features double stitched seams for durability. With many colours such as red, sky blue, sage, grey, and deep-water blue, there are so many options and sizes to choose from. You are sure to find the perfect option for your classroom!
-The touch and match board is a fun activity to help visual perception skills and tactile awareness. Students can match the different textures in these counters with their corresponding textured surfaces on the board for a great multi-sensory experience.
-The Classroom Cruiser is a great tool for self-regulating through movement without disrupting the class. It features an adjustable seat, backrest and handlebars, so students can maintain good posture while they pedal, a quiet drivetrain, an enclosed flywheel and a built-in display to track distance, speed, time, RPM and calories burned (batteries included). It’s light enough to move from space to space, making it the perfect addition to your class.
–The Adjustable Wiggle Stool is a fun seating solution that comes in six different colours. Since it is adjustable to different heights it grows with your students, so you never have to worry about sizing. They come with an extra-thick padded seat that allows for comfortable all-day use. The tamper-proof adjustable height reduces distractions and help promote a focused environment. The rubberized non-skid base is angled for improved posture and provides stability, even when over-tipped. The integrated handles allow for easy carrying, even for smaller children!
What products are must-haves for back to school?
You really can’t go wrong with the Create-A-Space Storage Centre. It brings an easy, convenient way to organize and present everyday materials in the classroom. This bright and cheerful set includes a circular tray with 8 colourful containers. Organization is key for starting up a great new school year!
The sorting and craft trays can help keep your arts and crafts table clean with this useful product. You can use it to contain paint, water spills, and sort and count activities. It’s also a great place to store art while its drying.
It’s a great idea to provide lots of arts and crafts supplies. Construction paper is a great base to start, with scissors, pencils, and stamps as great tools to add on. It’s simple and fun and can keep children occupied for hours.
The Classroom Caddies are an organization essential. Perfect for storing supplies for grab-and-go use, it features a comfort grip handle, made with stackable impact resistant plastic, and it is completely washable and dishwasher safe. It can be used to sort paint supplies, pens and pencils – it even comes in handy for carrying your snacks.
The Time Timer is a wonderful tool for structure in the classroom. Time management is a skill that children will use for the rest of their life and setting a time limit for activities and discussions can help encourage them to get things done. Even better, Time Timers don’t have a distracting loud ticking sound!
Looking for fun rewards for good behaviour? Look no further than the Treasure Chest Rewards. Recognize a birthday or special achievement and be sure to bring lots of smiles! Children will enjoy choosing between 4 sticky lizards, 14 rings, 4 erasers, 4 stampers, and 2 smiling face balls to commemorate their accomplishment.
First day at school ideas to encourage a positive environment:
Children may be prone to first-day jitters; not only are they getting to know you, but they are also getting to know their classmates and new environment. The first day is the perfect time to use an ice breaker and ask students to share about themselves in order to help them feel more welcome and at home.
Play some games. What better way to get students talking to each other than games! Play something light-hearted and fun, like Jenga or Bananagrams. This also helps children become more comfortable with each other.
You can’t go wrong with first day arts and crafts projects! Help the start of the new school year go smoothly with a fun and creative art project. A simple and classic one would be creating name tags for their desks. Encourage creativity and allow them to be themselves!
Conversation cubes can help spark discussions on the first day and beyond. They feature 36 engaging questions about student experiences and perspectives, with questions like “What are you most proud of?” and “Who is the bravest person you know?” It comes with an activity guide which makes it a great fit for breaking the ice to start off the first day of the new school year.
Encourage children to introduce themselves to the class. It helps build emotional intelligence, build confidence and public speaking skills. Ask them to share something special such as their favourite colour, book, movie, or food. This can help bring children out of their shell – and they are usually very excited to talk about things they are interested in!
Write a “Welcome to my Class” letter to all your new students introducing yourself. Share some interesting facts about yourself to help get the conversation started and share your personality with your new students.
Tips for starting the new school year the best way possible:
Plan and think ahead. An easy way to increase stress? Leave things to the last minute. In order to allow your classroom to shine, make sure things are planned before the day of. This goes for anything – lessons, class decorations… it always helps to think of a plan ahead of time and a schedule to assure that you won’t forget things. Make sure to keep an organized classroom – have a place for everything.
Establish a classroom culture. Update (or create) classroom rules while preparing your new space. Discuss these rules with your new students and establish them into your routine. These should also be posted somewhere in the room, perhaps with visual schedules to help reinforce to remind students of this information. Make sure students know that your classroom is a safe space and a space to grow. Keep a sense of humour! Start each day with a joke or riddle to help ease students (and yourself) into the school day.
Set Goals. The best way to measure success is to set and review goals. Don’t want those papers you have to mark to pile up? Set a goal to have half of them done by tomorrow, and the next half the following day. Setting goals helps to establish new behaviors, helps guide your focus and helps you continue these habits overtime. This helps motivate you and provide you with momentum to get stuff done!
Reflect on the previous year. Whether the previous school year was the best (or worst) one you’ve ever had, use it as a learning tool. Teaching can be a lot of trial and error, so think about the things you implemented in the classroom that worked in the past, and the things that didn’t turn out as well as you thought they would. Moving forward, experience gives you some insight into how to create the best classroom experience for your new students for years to come.
Decorate to set the tone. Children respond well to positivity, and this is no different when it comes to the aesthetic of their environment. Putting up motivating posters can help the mood and energy of the room to create a happy and productive atmosphere for learning!
Connect with co-workers and parents. Your coworkers may have lots of ideas and experience when it comes to preparation for September. It never hurts to bounce and share thoughts with each other, just like it doesn’t hurt to connect with your student’s parents either. Another tip – don’t only contact them about disciplinary situations with their kids. Feel free to share the good stuff too – like how polite their child acted or how hard they’ve been working. It always feels nice to be appreciated for the things you do right, instead of only being scolded for the things you’ve done wrong. Recognize good behavior!
Remain flexible. Sometimes, things happen that are out of our control. It’s best to stay calm and do your best to adapt to new challenges. Have backup plans just in case for things that worry you to help ease your mind. Don’t be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone and try new things – how else will you figure out what works for your students?
Here are some words of wisdom from anonymous teachers about starting a new school year:
“Above everything else, focus on building positive relationships with your students.”
“After disciplining a student, don’t carry it over to the next day. Treat every new day like starting over – everybody has bad days, and no one likes to be reminded of them.”
“Be consistent. Keeping things structured and in order helps make it easier for children to trust you.”
“Don’t take student behaviour or parent misunderstanding personally.”
“Remember to cultivate kindness and love at the beginning of the year. It’s the most important thing you will do all year!”
“Build relationships with everyone – office staff, janitors, parents. You never know when you may need assistance!”
“Make a personal and meaningful connection with each student every day. This could be as simple as greeting them at the door or giving them a high five before they leave to go home.”
“Always make eye contact with your students and build up their confidence with compliment.”
“Find friends in other teachers and keep them close. Veteran teachers can give some great advice and guidance.”
“Stay positive, have fun, and keep trying!”