Administrators contribute significantly in helping both teachers and families adjust to the school year. In addition to taking steps to ensure a smooth transition for children, families, and staff, administrators also set the tone for the upcoming year and what they hope will be accomplished. The following checklist may give administrators some guidelines for what to consider as they prepare the start-up of school.
- Send a welcoming letter to parents alerting them to any changes, including staff and policy changes.
- Plan an orientation meeting for both new and returning families. Highlight important aspects of your program and allow time for questions. If appropriate for your program, outline possibilities for parents to participate in school endeavors.
- Take preventative steps to allay possible parental concerns. For example, explain staff ratios, how staff absentees will be handled, how children will be transitioned into school, and how your assessment process works.
- Be available to meet parents as they begin bringing their children to school. Face-to-face greetings help administrators and parents begin to build strong relationships.
- Scheduled paired observations, perhaps with a mental health or educational coordinator, for parents who have questions about certain aspects of the program. Paired observations give administrators the opportunity to explain what is going on in the room and why certain issues are dealt with in a particular way.
- Address minor concerns quickly. This helps head off bigger issues that could surface later.
- Create a welcoming area for parents, perhaps with refreshments, where they can network with one another and also chat informally with administrators.
- Orient new teachers before the start of the school year. Let them know what kinds of things families have come to expect from your program. For example, if photographs of all the children are typically posted in the classroom, it is helpful for new teachers to have this information. Otherwise, they may be confronted by a distressed parent who wonders why there are no pictures in his child's room.
- Whenever possible, involve teachers in the class placements of the children. This encourages collaboration among staff and helps teachers feel invested in all of the classrooms.
- Plan a community-building get-together for families and staff. Potluck dinners are always popular. This gives families and staff a chance to socialize and get to know one another outside of class.