Before the year starts I assign a different rubber stamp shape (small) to each child in class…a rabbit, a house, a boat, a flower, etc. Their individual symbol is stamped next to their names every place they see their names – on cubbies, nametags, magnets that I send home with parents at Orientation. It’s easier for a 3-year-old to “read” a single symbol than a written name, but by Christmas most of the children recognize at least their own name if not others’. Usually by January I can remove the symbols from monthly nametags.
I ask the parents of my K3 students to send a picture of the child’s family to school during the first week. Each child picks his/her favorite color of construction paper and we cut out a pennant shape and tape on the picture. Then the children tell me their favorite things about each family member and I write it on the pennant. We put some “fringe” on the end of each with a contrasting color of paper and hang our pennants on the wall. Seeing their family’s picture every day makes the children feel at home.
I work with preschoolers, most entering school for the first time. On the first day I pull out a puppet just before the children arrive. I have the assistant meet the children at the door while I sit on the carpet talking to my puppet about how he feels about the first day of school. The kid’s natural curiosity brings them across the room to check things out and when they do they may hear their own feelings being expressed by the puppet. Then they don’t feel quite so alone.
At the beginning of each year I give each parent the option of sending in a disposable camera, with the child’s name marked on. I keep the cameras all year long and take candid pictures of the children at work and play. It is a great keepsake! Parents love it!