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5 Ways to Welcome Students Back to Elementary School

Janelle Cox

It’s back to school time! It’s important to welcome students back to school and make them feel comfortable from the first moment that they enter your classroom. School is a place where students spend the majority of their days, so it needs to be a place where they feel safe and welcomed, just like they do at home. Here are a few ways that you can help students settle into the classroom after a long summer break at home.

1. Create an Inviting Back to School Classroom

Make your classroom a warm and inviting atmosphere. When you think of being home, you probably think of a place that is filled with family photos and comfy chairs to sit on. Try to create a space that resembles this for your classroom. The easiest way you can do this is to hang your students’ photographs and works of art on the walls. You can also create fun bulletin boards, and set up an area in the classroom that resembles home. All you need to do is place a cozy chair on a bright colored carpet, add a few book shelves filled with books and you have yourself a nice little reading spot. This will make students feel like the classroom is not only yours, but theirs too.

2. Let Students Get to Know You

Most teachers spend the majority of the first days of school playing getting-to-know you games so the students can become more acquainted with one another. What most teachers fail to do is allow time for the students to get to know them. If you think about it, a teacher is pretty much a student’s surrogate parent for the school year, so it’s essential that they get to know the teacher just as well as their peers. Try having students conduct a personal teacher interview with you. Partners students up and have them list about five to 10 questions they want to ask you. Then, once all students have conducted their interviews, ask each group to choose their favorite question to share with the rest of the class. 

3. Break-the-Ice with Some Getting-to-Know you Games

The first few days of school can be quite awkward and intimating for many children. To help ease some of those first week jitters try playing a few getting-to-know you games to help students get acquainted with one another. Here are a few great games to help break the ice.

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  • What’s my Name? – Randomly partner students together into pairs of two. Then have each pair take turns trying to guess their partners name without saying a word. The person can point to objects, or act out their names.
  • Secret Identities - This getting-to-know you game is a hilarious way for students to learn and remember their classmates’ names. Go around the classroom and have each student say there first and last name. Then, have students use the letters in their name to come up with a "secret" name. If they are having a hard time they can visit the website to help them. For example, Janelle Cox would be "Can Jello Ex.” Once they have come up with their secret identity, have students try and discover each student’s new name.

4. Plan a Scavenger Hunt

Create a simple classroom scavenger hunt to help your student’s become more acquainted with the classroom. For younger students, create a list with pictured clues that they need to find and check off as they go. Include items such as find the book corner, their cubby, the restroom, and so on. For older students you can create a checklist and list things such as, look for the homework basket, look for the class rules, look for the class library, etc. Continue with items to find in and around the classroom. Once the scavenger hunt is completed, have them hand their completed sheet in for a small prize, like a pencil or other fun eraser. This is a great activity for students to get acquainted with their classroom and learn where everything goes.

5. Read a Back-to-School Story

Books are a great icebreaker because they help students relax, and give them the sense that they are not alone in how they are feeling. Starting the first day of school, and continuing throughout the week, read a different back to school book each morning. Books like “First Day Jitters” by Julie Dannenberg or “Back to School Rules” by Laurie B. Freidman are great because they help to alleviate those first week jitters and allow students a platform to communicate how they are feeling.

How do you welcome your students back to school? Do you have anything that you would like to share? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.

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