They come in with smiles, loud greetings, eyes bright and taking in all there is to see in their new classroom. Some cling to their parents, others can hardly wait to be set loose on all the beautiful materials they see before them. They leave their shoes and lunchbags in strange places, and forget to tidy up the messes they make. They cry at quiet time, because they are tired and they miss their mommies. They sometimes pinch or slap when they don't yet have the words to say, "No", "Stop", or "I don't like that!". They snuggle in to the adults that now care for them, so willing to trust us with our gentle voices and complete engagement in their play.
The first week of school is massive in its transition, for children and teachers, out of the relaxed zone of summer holidays. We are getting to know one another, and we take copious notes on the interactions we see. D brought S a baby doll when he noticed she felt sad. R invited A to play a game he made up with the school buses, called "Crash Fall Down". B pinched K because he knocked down her tower.
We gently redirect and remind, guide them through conflicts with a firm but gentle voice, and teach them how to care for the materials in our classroom. We pay attention to the energy in the room and find ways to calm things down or ramp things up (although the latter is rarely needed at this time of year).
Our classroom is the Third Teacher. We spent the summer cleaning, sorting, purging, and carefully presenting the materials we've collected and purchased to offer invitations to the children. We intentionally create many opportunities for the children to develop their fine motor control before we ever put a pencil in their hands.
Drawing, painting, rolling and cutting playdough snakes, moving beads on a wire caterpillar, filling small bottles with dried beans then screwing on the top, spinning their homemade tops, building cars, lining up blocks, and hammering nails all lead to improved control of the small muscles in their hands.
Printing will come, but not just yet.
We have much playing to do first.