Dear [Family],
We are eager to welcome [child] on [date]! Dropping your child at the program can be scary both for parents
and children. Here are some tips to help you and your child during the first few days.

Before your child starts, begin talking to your child about where he or she will be going and what a day there
might be like. Take note of the times when your child will be dropped off and picked up from the program.

Make comments like, “When school starts, this is the time we would be leaving” or “I will be waiting to pick
you up from school right now.”
Visit us to help make your child comfortable about being away from home. While here, take some pictures
of the different centers and toys. Then, display and discuss them at home so your child becomes comfortable
and knows what to expect. Also meet the teacher(s), take photos, and practice learning names.

Mark the first day on the calendar and start a back-to-school countdown. Plan a fun activity after the first
day, like getting a treat or going to visit someone special in your child’s life.

Send along a photo of yourself or a favorite toy on the first day for your child to look at. Having something
familiar from home is often a comfort.

You want your child to feel good about being here. Be sure you model your own comfort around your child’s
new adventure! The suggestions below can help you do that on the first day.

DO • Give your child a hug.

• Make comments like “I know you are going to
have a great day. I will pick you up after school”
or “I can’t wait to pick you up and hear about all
the fun things you did at school.” Make sure your
child sees and hears that you are comfortable and
enthusiastic. • Wait until you have left the classroom to show
emotion. It is hard for some parents to leave
their child.

• Call to check on your child if you are worried. I am
more than happy to let you know how your child is
doing and work with you to help you and your child
make a smooth transition.

• Be strong for your child. I have hugged many
crying children as their parents leave the room.

Typically they cry only a few minutes before seeing
the toys and other children and deciding to play.

DON’T • Come back again and again for hugs. When you
do this, you are showing your child that you are
unsure about leaving. If you stay for three hugs on
day 1, your child will try for four the next time, then
five, six, seven . . .

• Sneak out of the classroom. This does not build
trust. You are teaching your child that you might
disappear at any time; as a result, she or he will
cling to you even more. I am happy to comfort your
child when you leave and will make sure every
child is safe. Many children will cry or scream the
first several times that a parent leaves. I have dealt
with this many times, and I am confident that your
child will learn how to enjoy coming in, with our
help. If you confidently tell your child “good-bye”
and come back on time after class, your child will
learn to rely on that information and trust that you
will be there every day after school. Eventually this
will help your child let you go at the beginning of
the school day.

One of my most important jobs is to help your child become confident and secure. This starts when he
or she enters the classroom for the very first time. With your help, we can make this transition a positive
experience. Sincerely yours,
Classroom Structure

Acti v i ty 3
Structure Story
Time Carefully
Many preschool classrooms cover several topics
during story or circle time activities. Working with
a calendar, reading a story, playing pre-academic
games, doing group fingerplays, learning songs,
and practicing personal information are all areas
that can be covered during story time. Story or
circle time is, at its core, a group lesson, and it
should be consistent and predictable.

I like to focus this time on a book. Children
love to hear books read over and over. Choose a
book instead of a topic as the theme for the week
in your classroom. Read that story to the class
each day and use ideas from the book as a basis
for fine-motor-skill development, center activities,
language enhancement, and gross-motor-skill fun
throughout the remainder of the day.

Help Children Understand
Sequence Because story time is a whole-class activity, it
needs to be carefully constructed to stay on track.

Children attend better to what is happening when
they understand the sequence of these events.

Use Visuals to Show Sequence
Make a small poster and pictures related to your
book to represent the different sections you will
read during story time. Display these on a bulletin
board. For example, when reading a farm book,
you might have a poster of a barn and pictures
of farm animals that can be placed on the barn
after you read each section. Make a pocket for
each section of your story time and attach these
close to your small poster. For example, have one
pocket for reading the book, one for calendar
work, one for a fingerplay, and one for a learn-
ing game. Put pictures on the pockets to represent
each of these areas.

Place one picture that relates to your lessons
in each pocket at the beginning of this lesson.

Then, for example, when you complete the cal-
4 Chapter 1
endar portion, have a child come up and move
the picture from the calendar pocket to the poster.

After you read the book, have another child move
the story picture to the poster. Continue with this
sequence until your story time lesson is finished,
all the pockets are empty, and the pictures have
been moved to the poster. Make your pictures
large enough so they stick out of the pocket and
children can see if the pockets are full or empty.

This helps children understand what is finished,
what is next, and how much longer they will be
involved. Keep the number of sections consistent
and limited to three or four so the children remain
engaged in the story activities. Reinforce children
who are paying attention by choosing them to put
the pieces on the poster. This often refocuses the
rest of the class.

As they move the pieces, ask questions or en-
courage the children to share their knowledge
about the theme. Talk about how many topics
they’ve completed and how many are left, or
make up a song to sing between sections.

Allow Children to Move
Story time doesn’t have to be a sitting-still activ-
ity. Allow children to move. If chairs are used,
invite children to sit on the floor when the story
is read and return to their chairs for the game and
calendar time. Create pre-academic group lessons
involving movement that match your book topic.

For example, during a farm story, you might en-
courage children to move around the classroom
to find farm animals you have hidden. Talk about
where the animals were found. Reinforce position
concepts such as in, behind, beside, or on every
time children bring an animal to the front and
place them around the barn. Discuss the role of
each animal in the story.

Choose Books Carefully
Find books with good pictures. Make sure that
illustrations are not too detailed because chil-
dren may have trouble focusing on the important
themes. Be aware of this when evaluating the text
as well. Books that are wordy or have too many
new words can be confusing for young children.