|Principal & Clinic|
Friends and Family Board
Welcome New Families
Families come and go throughout the year. Changing schools mid-year is disruptive, difficult and downright frightening for many students. Help ease this transition by welcoming students and their families into your School Family on a school-wide “Welcome” board.
Set up a bulletin board in the entryway or other central location. As new families enter the school, invite them to provide photographs and basic information (family members’ names, where they’re moving from, and fun tidbits like favorite activities and what they’re looking forward to about their new community). Some schools accomplish this by sending home a form asking specific questions and requesting two or three family photos. Others take new photos and answer the questions on home visits. Gather their responses and showcase them on the bulletin board for at least a month after the new child’s arrival. Use the information the families provide to welcome the new students at the next school assembly.
Greetings provide a way to connect with every student who enters the classroom. As you greet students, noticing their body language provides you with the opportunity to assess who is primed for a day of optimal learning and who might benefit from some additional connection or Safe Place time.
Select a location where you will stand every morning to greet the children. Send the verbal and nonverbal message, “Hello, I’m glad you’re here today!” Props like the greeting apron give children a choice about how they would like to be greeted. For example, you might put images of a butterfly, a hand, a bear and fireworks on an apron. Ask children how they would like to be greeted and then share a playful greeting together. (Make up greetings to go with the images.) The Make-n-Take CD-rom contains a helpful template for a greeting apron.
The Friends and Family Board builds community and connection, and links the home family with the School Family.
Each classroom will have an individual Friends and Family Board. Your school-wide Friends and Family Board will be posted in a central location (front office, foyer/vestibule, main hallway) and will include the staff members who interact with students and families throughout the school. Take pictures of staff members and invite them to bring in photos of their families. Label the photos with staffers’ names and job titles, and place the images on the school-wide Friends and Family Board. Update the images as needed throughout the year.
Creating the School Family provides extensive background information and activities for your Friends and Family Board. In Shubert's New Friend, Shubert takes a photo of his new classmate to include on the Friends and Family Board.
The brain functions optimally when a person feels safe, therefore the basic job description for all staff members in School Family is "My job is to keep you safe." The children's job is "To help keep it safe."
Make a clear statement of the school-wide commitment to safety by displaying some version of your safety commitment near the school entrance. It could be in the form of a school motto that includes the concept of safety or simply the phrase “Our job is to keep it safe.” Remind children of your commitment to keep them safe and their commitment to keep the school safe by using the language of safety from the first moment children arrive at school to the last moment they are on school property at the end of the day. Relate greetings, rules, routines and noticing to the concept of safety. “Hey, hey, Katerina! Good to see you this morning! My job is to keep you safe. What’s your job?” “Geo, you’re swinging your backpack from side to side. Hold your backpack still like this (demonstrate) to keep yourself and your classmates safe.”