3 Tips to Make the First Week of School Easier (on the kindergarten teacher)


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 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 bathroom procedures 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 at least mention 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 the bathroom 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:

  • entering (knock, etc.)
  • the door
  • flushing (and have them do it – I’ve had kinders afraid of the flushing sound and it’s good to identify that one right away)
  • hand washing
  • paper towels

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

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

You can make it humorous – it makes for a fun way to start the year. I like to be a little outrageous to keep their attention and simultaneously explain 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 it in a short statement. Repeat it after me… and move onto the next step.

Reinforce with positive feedback, praise or reward

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.

Of course, you start praising other new behaviors as you teach them and so this one quickly fades in needing recognition (probably later that same day even). But, just to keep them on their toes – throw in a little extra positive attention back in during 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 expect them to get this procedure for good… or well, for at least the rest of the school year.

A side note on the bathroom: I think that teaching them when it’s appropriate to ask versus just going is important. I like to teach that there are “good times” and “not good times” for students to use the restroom. When it’s a good time, there is no permission needed. They simply go as their little bodies need. When it’s not a good time, then they need to ask/inform me before they just take off.

Check out the simple restroom chart I created that helps define this. It’s a great anchor chart to create your first week of school.

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

You may want to get this tip and 8 others sent directly to your email with my free Back to School Bootcamp course. You’ll get my best on starting kindergarten and be on your way to feeling more prepared than ever!

Let’s wrap it up

I hope that combined, these tips can help you have a smooth beginning with positive results to last all year!

No one needs bathroom issues when we’re trying to pack a whole day of learning in, right?

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

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  1. 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

  2. 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!

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