On the Friday of the very first week of school, my granddaughter Chloé cried and cried and cried.
It was not because she didn’t like school, but because her mom had just told her there was no school for two more days. Even though her family had fun weekend activities planned, she wanted to be at her school.
After only three days in Junior Kindergarten, Clhoé knew school was where she wanted to be.
What is the first week of school like in your classroom?
Parents have expressed to me over the years that the first day of middle and high school can be an awful experience for young people. Teachers hand out course outlines and big thick textbooks. They talk about evaluation, and exams. They talk about rules and the importance of “not getting behind”. Children wonder if they can possibly be successful.
What would happen if we took some time instead to welcome each new learner, and to find out more about their individual strengths and interests? What if instead of scaring kids into compliance, we created an accepting learning environment where they could grow and flourish?
Belonging, is central to success and engagement in learning. This is not “fitting in”. This is acceptance fo who the child is. Brain development is shaped by the social-emotional conditions and the cognitive stimulation in the lives of children.
Dr. Jean Clinton talks about the importance of having one adult whose “eyes light up” when a child enters the school.
How can we intentionally plan the first few days of school to ensure that children can’t wait to get back to the learning? How can we continue to create learning environments that are positive, welcoming place that children can’t wait to come back to – every day? How do we interrupt our thinking about what the first day “should” look like from an “accountability” lens, and instead think about how we can ensure our capable and competent learners continue to flourish?