Encouraging School Success by Fostering Community, Belonging
September 16, 2016
“In the 16 years that St. Mary’s has been providing quality education for our little ones, this is probably the smoothest transition from summer to school that I have ever seen,” said Director Susan Rawls. “We have had eager and delighted learners coming in each day this week, with very few tears, and we thank our parents for helping to prepare their children for the transition from home to school.”
Fostering a sense of belonging is of utmost importance in every classroom as we begin the school year, and teachers have worked hard to establish warm, engaging environments for the children. By establishing rituals and traditions in our classrooms, we encourage school success.
“I love how each of our teachers has a special greeting for each child every single morning – how important each of your children must feel as the teacher greets him or her with a warm hug and asks about family and about plans for the school day,” Rawls said.
In the two-year-olds class, the children check out the “Who’s here today?” board, while the children in the four- and five-day classes have a “sign in” ritual to establish who’s here. Snack time, circle or gathering time, center or investigation time are also events of each day that help to develop and build the class rituals and traditions. The shared predictable experience that helps the day move from moment to moment empowers each child and helps to establish that sense of order and connectedness necessary for meaningful learning.
In many classes, the children have brought posters from home that share the family community with their classmates and allow each child to use language skills to talk about themselves and the relationships among their family members, giving the children a way to connect their home culture to their school.
JK Teacher Mrs. Dixon shares that in her class the first few weeks of school help guide the children to adjust to the classroom routine, but teachers remain flexible to the needs and interests of the children. She said she also spends these first few weeks nurturing independence with daily tasks and encouraging children to build relationships in the classroom.
“It is important for each child to know that they are valued and have an important place in our classroom,” Dixon said. “Research indicates that some of the most important skills for school readiness and success are to learn how to positively interact with others, communicate, collaborate and problem solve.”