How to Make New Students Feel Comfortable

One thing you should know before you scan through this post is that I am a reading specialist so I work with students individually or in groups of up to four students in my classroom. When I am discussing "new students", I am thinking of students that join my reading groups at various points in the year. Our groupings are flexible and during the year some students go back to the classroom and new students join groups. But this could apply to other interventionists like special education teachers, math specialists, and other teachers who work with various students throughout the year. It could also apply to students who move into your classroom from another school or town in the middle of the year.

So how can we make new students feel welcome?

The All About Me poster is a great way to quickly let students know about who you are and to make some connections. I share this with groups on the first day but as new students join, it takes about 2-3 minutes to share - and it's easy to make one! Check out my video here to see for yourself!

Give them a buddy in the group! This is an old standby but folks have continued to do this because it can be so helpful! A buddy can do something as simple as walk them to your room, or during lessons, help them with materials and procedures!

One on one time - If you are an interventionist, maybe take them by themselves in advance of the first group  for five minutes of a quick activity and five minutes of making connections and getting to know you time! This will help with their comfort level.

Welcome Circle - in your group or class, have a welcome circle. Go around the group (it will be quick if you work with students in a small group) and  each child says their name and a fact about themselves. The next child says their name, a fact, and repeats the name and fact of anyone who spoke before them. Example: Archie says, "Hi, I am Archie and football is my favorite sport". Betty, who is next to him says, "I am Betty and I like to write. That's Archie and football is his favorite sport", and so on!

Welcome Gift - I give bookmarks on the first day of reading groups. So, as group members change, I will either give everyone a new bookmark so it's fun for everyone, or give the new kiddo the bookmark that everyone else got recently. I make my own bookmarks and print them on cardstock so it's very cost efficient. If you give out personal dictionaries, or anything, don't forget new students as they join!

Parent Connection - if it's appropriate, reach out to parents with positive feedback after first few days with a compliment or positive comment via a note in their book bag, email, etc. It's always helpful to start on a positive note with parents.

What is your favorite way to help new students feel comfortable? Comment and let us know!

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