As you plan the first day of school for your class, you are probably thinking about a first day of school tour. Here are a few things to consider as you plan your tour.
Should I do a first day of school tour?
A tour is helpful during the first day. First, it helps break up the day with a little movement. It’s also quite beneficial for students who might be a bit anxious about school. You will answer important questions for them, like “Where is the bathroom?” and “Where do I go if I feel sick?”
Even if most of your students attended the school last year, changing rooms can be disorienting. A school tour can help them refamiliarize themselves with the building fro the perspective of their new classroom.
Keep it short.
On the first day of school, kids have little stamina for school stuff. A school tour is helpful because it gets them up and moving, but they will only be able to listen for a short time. You might find that 15-20 minutes is plenty, depending on the size of your school. (If your grade level decides to visit the entire building, feel free to modify their tour to make it shorter.)
Only visit the essentials.
Of course, it’s nice to show students the art room and the 3rd grade classrooms on your first day of school tour. But, do they REALLY need to know that in order to survive the first week? You will take them to art and their friends or siblings will introduce them to other classrooms. But you may not do planned bathroom visits.
Instead, think about where they are likely to go without you during the first week. Include those rooms on your tour. Here are a few to consider:
- bathroom (build in a bathroom break while you’re here – it adds time, but some kids might be too shy to ask right away)
- health room
- lunch room (you might even walk the “route” they will use as they get lunch; also, show them where they will sit)
- parent pick-up location
- quickly point out where other classrooms are (“Third grade is down this hallway.” or “The art room is down there. I’ll show you when we go to art tomorrow.”)
Consider ending the tour with a stop by the playground. First, this will also give you a chance to highlight 2-3 key playground rules before they play. It will also give students a chance to burn off energy after listening attentively during the first day of school tour. Finally, you will be able to introduce the routine for lining up and moving back to your classroom. This will be a great (but productive) mid-morning break for both you and your students!
Limit your talking.
As you stop at each location, just say 1-2 sentences about why it is important. For instance, “This is the office. Kids will go here to drop off notes each day.” Then move on. This keeps the tour moving and makes it easier to pay attention. Plus, they’ll be so busy looking at things they won’t hear much more than the basics.
The exception to this would be rooms where you want kids to “practice” on the tour: for example the bathroom or the playground. You will want to say more, but still remind yourself to stop before their eyes glaze over.
A first day of school tour is a great way to help your students settle in. Just remember to keep short, visit just the essential places, and limit your talking. Ending the tour with a visit to the playground is sure to make your tour a hit!