By: Rachel Dixon, Director of Innovative Learning
UCCC school is in session all year long. However, just like those schools who follow a traditional school year calendar, we also use the end of summer to mark the “beginning” of our new school year.
New beginnings offer wonderful opportunities. This is particularly true for our teachers who are eagerly preparing for another year with either a slightly different group of children from the year before, or in some cases a largely new group of children. In either case, our teachers carefully prepare to welcome students into the new school year in several key ways:
1. Get to know their students . Teachers spend the weeks leading up to school learning more about their class. They may reach out to the teachers that the children have previously had or to the children’s families in order to get to know them better. The specific needs and interests of the children in the class dictate all major decisions around curriculum, environment, and how we build relationships. This information is critical! If a teacher has had the child in their classroom for a while, they will revisit what they know about the child, asking themselves questions like: How has this child grown and developed in my care? What excites them? What challenges them? How can I continue to move them forward?
2. Revamp their environment. Using their knowledge of their students, teachers begin to ponder how their environment suits the needs of their children. For example, if the class is made up of children who are particularly interested in blocks or dramatic play, those areas may need to be enlarged. Teachers also take great care to make sure that all children are represented in the space. They will make updates to things like their picture schedule, job chart, and other pieces of documentation and displays around the classroom. The environment should be catered to the needs of the children in it, while honoring their interests and individuality.
3. Reflect on the previous year . UCCC teachers value reflection as part of their practice. Preparing for a new year means reflecting upon the successes and challenges from the previous year. What worked well? What didn’t work well? What might need more of my attention this year? What can I improve upon?
As our teachers go through this preparation process, here are some things that you can do:
Share any updates with your child’s teachers. Is there anything happening at home that they should know about? Did any new interests develop over the summer?
Provide teachers with family photos, or update an existing family board. This will help teachers make sure that your child is well represented in the classroom.
Check your child’s cubby for items that may need to be taken home. Be sure that changes of clothing are the correct size and suitable for the season.
Ask questions! What should I expect this school year? Will there be any changes that I should prepare my child (and myself) for? What communication can I expect? How will I know what my child is up to? How can we best partner to support my child?
All of these things ultimately ease the transition process for our children, while helping our teachers to prepare for the exciting year ahead! If you have any questions or comments, a member of the program team would be happy to answer them.