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How to welcome students on the opening day

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/2/2006 | Education

The school reopening is a big event in any school's calendar. On this day, hundreds of students return with new anxieties and new apprehensions. It is for the school to assuage these anxieties and ease them into daily classroom activities.

Normally, each school begins preparations for the reopening day at least a fortnight in advance. One of the activities is the "back-to-school" letters. This is a personal note welcoming students to the new academic term, and always encourages students. The letter may also give details about the new activities or events that are in store for the following term. This usually makes students look forward to the reopening day.

Parents too can share their views and opinions about the reopening day plans. This is a good exercise, and develops a sense of bonding and participation. Several schools conduct an open house a day before the school reopens to familiarize the students and teachers with each other. They also provide welcome back packs that inform parents and students of what they can expect in the new term. These are great ways to build bridges.

Some schools host hot dog socials, some arrange lunch and others organize coffee hour in which the teachers meet the parents. The parents not only get a chance to meet the teachers but are also given a tour of the school. It is followed up by talks about the activities and past achievements of the school. An orientation program is also arranged where the parents can speak to the teachers. This is usually followed up by the open house.

The activities continue into the reopening day. Scavenger Hunt is a game that is conducted to help the students know each other. In this game the students are given a sheet with questions. They are teamed up with senior students and the new student has to locate the destination or object and get the signature of the teacher in charge of that area. Small encouragement prizes are also given in some schools. Most children love this game as it is gives them a feel of the school. They also get to know the teachers and fellow students simultaneously.

Some schools conduct an orientation program on the opening day.  In this program,
Student Council members welcome new arrivals while cheerleaders perform for the crowd. Some schools even rope in parents to welcome parents of new children.

The mood is definitely upbeat on the opening day, the effort being to make the students feel wanted. The festivities should not be limited to the assembly but should also be continued in the classes. The teachers should not jump into studies; instead they should use the first day to get to know their students.

They must also make an effort to introduce the students to each other. This is an important activity for it puts the class to ease almost immediately. The best way to do it is through participatory games in which children don't feel conscious but talk about themselves as part of the game.