1. Use picture labels for where things go along with the words. This makes teaching the kids to clean-up so much easier.
2. Don’t go overboard with posters and cutesy stuff on the walls. It is much better to leave room for student work. Most districts follow a 20% rule with how much can be on the walls. When you consider the bulletin boards and other things you have to have up that doesn’t leave a lot.
3. Don’t put markers out the first week.
4. Begin with board books in the reading center. This gives you time to go over how to take care of books before the books get bent or ripped.
5. Have a quiet area where kids that are over-stimulated or scared can go. I keep some squeeze balls, fun books, etc there.
6. At parent orientation or the first few days take pictures of the kids. Use these to put the kids’ pictures with their names on their cubbies. Do the same on name plates so that the kids can find their names quickly to copy.
7. Don’t begin with all your jobs. Start with 3-5. Add a couple the next week. The kids that did it week one can help the kids doing it week 2 learn what to do.
8. Keep parent phone numbers easily accessible by your phone.
9. Do not put out all the play food yet. I start with the pots and pans, plates, and cups.
10. Puzzles are great, but expect that however many you put out is the number that they will dump on the floor the first week and get stuck! Keep simple puzzles out for week one.
This is for me personally. My students have never been in a day care center or anything like that. So I have to spend time teaching them how we play, how we use our things, and how we clean up.