3 Kindergarten Tips to Make the First Week of School Easier {on the teacher}

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The beginning of the kindergarten school year is hard. It can be hard on your teacher budget, hard on your {{summer}} sleep schedule and hard on your energy levels. {ZAP!} Here are 3 tips that involve teaching kindergartners how and when to use the restroom, that you can adapt to your class to make your life easier. While these tips won’t help you adjust back to waking to an alarm clock, they are free and will hopefully help you spend your energy wisely.

Why write about the bathroom? Because setting up procedures right away matters in kindergarten.

3 Kindergarten Tips to Make the First Week of School Easier {on the teacher}

For example, I never thought I’d have to teach someone how to blow their nose. But I do. It’s time well spent on the front end to avoid talking about wiping snotty noses on sleeves come the the first set of cold germs to sweep through the school halls. Teaching your expectations, including bathroom usage, on the front end makes your whole year smoother… not just the first day of school.

Teach them Right Away

Teach them right away. I’m not kidding. While it’s nice to do some type of welcoming “activity,” someone’s little kindergarten brain and nervous body is thinking about using the bathroom. So, hold off on the activity until you’ve set their minds at ease and mentioned the bathroom. Once you’ve done your welcome and get them settled for a first lesson on how to do school… now is the time to hit them with how to use the restroom.

3 Kindergarten Tips to Make the First Week of School Easier {on the teacher}

In my kindergarten classroom, I like to use a social story type of book to break the ice, teach them my expectations and then we practice it. It’s our first mini-lesson for the day after we go over the name of the teacher and where we put those gosh darn backpacks.

Teach it Explicitly

Teach it explicitly. What I mean is, don’t assume that students have experience with using a school bathroom. Most have experienced public restrooms, but that is usually with an adult’s 1:1 supervision. Teach what you expect them to do with the paper towels, with the door, with flushing {do it!}, and hand washing.

I like to also point out these printable reminders as I go through each step.

3 Kindergarten Tips to Make the First Week of School Easier {on the teacher}

I find that you can make it humorous which makes it a fun way to start the year. I like to be a little outrageous to keep their attention and simultaneously explaining why we do each step. I like to involve my new little listeners as they chime, “NO! That’s not where the paper towel goes!” as they watch me attempt to toss it in the sink, hide it in a cupboard and throw it on the floor. They think it’s hysterical until I get it right and then I hit ‘em with why we do it the way we do in a short statement. Repeat it after me… and move onto the next step.

Reinforce with Positive Feedback, Praise or Reward

I also think that teaching them when it’s appropriate to ask versus just going is important. You can read about my simple chart for teaching kindergartners when to use the restroom for some more tips.

3 Kindergarten Tips to Make the First Week of School Easier {on the teacher}

Plus, whenever you notice the FIRST student (who can handle the public attention) do one of the steps that you explicitly taught give wonderful, outrageous praise. Well, simply handle it as you would when students first model a desired procedure… like walking in the hallways. We make a big deal at first because positive praise reinforces the behavior. If you like to give out smelly spots like I do, then this is a great time to reward freshly washed hands for their first time.

3 Kindergarten Tips to Make the First Week of School Easier {on the teacher}

Make it last! Throw in a little extra positive attention the second week of school to reinforce all of the hard work that you did up front and to let your new kinders know you didn’t forget how much you appreciate them getting this under wraps for good… or well, for at least the year.

More Beginning of Kindergarten

More on Bathroom Routines

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What tips did I miss out on? If you have one, be sure to share it with all of us. If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly. – Leslie

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About Leslie @KindergartenWorks

Leslie is the author of KindergartenWorks. She teaches kindergarten students how to be pretty incredible along with teaching them to read, write and think for themselves. She enjoys graphic design, learning new things and sharing with teachers. Google+

  • Kayla King

    I used your bathroom signs in my Kindergarten classroom this year and loved them! I put the flush sign at eye level across from the toilet and the wash hands sign on the inside of the bathroom door. They saw this sign as they were about to open the door and it was a great reminder!

    • http://www.kindergartenworks.com Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Awesome to hear Kayla! Thanks for sharing. It’s a great idea to place them in those highly visible spots!
      – Leslie

  • Chrissy

    Our school was built in 1921 (beautiful, not totally functional!) and the bathrooms are on a different floor. Wait- there’s more! The boys’ bathroom is on one side of the school and the girls’ is on the other side. We plan deliberate breaks to use the bathroom. There is a lot of waiting, because I obviously can’t let one group go running off alone to the other end of the floor! Add a large class to the mix and more than 45 minutes of instruction could be spent on bathroom breaks :-{

    Thanks for reminding me that teaching bathroom procedures is a priority! I’m still thinking of ways to engage the children during the time they are waiting for one group to finish in the bathroom. The hallway expectations at my school involve silence, hands behind the back, eyes looking forward. I understand the need for quiet, but this is sooooo hard for new kindergartners!

    Have a great summer (if you have any ideas for me, give me a shout!),
    Chrissy at ReadWriteSing

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