Chinese Wisdom for Welcoming a New Child Into a Class

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
–Chinese Proverb

Often times teachers don’t have any input into when a new student joins their classroom. You walk in to work one day and you are informed that Trevor will be joining your classroom the next week. What can a teacher do to make this entry experience good for both Trevor and his new classmates?  I think the Chinese proverb above offers clues about a few simple things that teachers can do with children to help facilitate a smooth introduction and transition into a new classroom.

I hear and I forget. You tell the children to expect a new classmate on Monday.  Next week comes and the new child starts. It is a rough start; there are tears and everyone is out of sorts. What happened? You told the children that a new classmate was coming. They heard but they forgot.

I see and I remember. So how can you make this a more meaningful start for the new child and the other children? How about showing your class a photo of the new child? You can also send a photo of his future classmates to the new child. A great idea would be to set up a visit to the classroom for the new child and his family.  Children need to see so that they can remember.  A new classroom and unfamiliar faces won’t seem so new or unfamiliar after a classroom visit.

I do and I understand. Finally to make the best start possible, have your class make a welcome sign or card for the new classmate. This is a great way to help them remember the new child’s name.  Let the children plan other ways to welcome the new child.  Pick a “buddy” for the new student and tell the “buddy” that he or she has   the responsibility of helping the new child until he is adjusted.

How do you support or welcome a new child to your program? A combination of strategies will work best. But as you work on a plan, let this Chinese proverb be your guide:  I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

– Stephanie Kennedy