Tips for a Welcoming First Day in Elementary School


Welcoming First Day of School: 

Tips for Grades 3-5 Teachers

Top Strategies for a Smooth First Day in the Classroom

The first day of school is a mix of excitement and nerves for students and teachers alike. The anticipation can be overwhelming for elementary students transitioning to a new grade. As educators, we aim to create a welcoming and comfortable environment to alleviate anxieties and establish a positive tone for the school year ahead. Here are some practical tips and strategies to help make the first school day a smooth and enjoyable experience for your students.

boy holding a back to school sign in a classroom

A Warm Welcome at the Door

Greeting each student with a smile and a personal welcome as they enter the classroom can make a significant difference. Stand at the door, introduce yourself, and use a friendly handshake or high-five. This simple gesture helps build an immediate connection and shows students you are excited to have them in your class.

Personalized Name Tags

Prepare personalized name tags for each student's desk. This will help students find their seats quickly and make them feel special. You can add a small welcome note or a fun fact about yourself to spark curiosity and conversation.

Morning Work to Ease Into the Day

Set up a fun and engaging morning activity that students can work on independently as they settle in. For grades 3-5, consider a "Getting to Know You" worksheet or a simple, low-pressure puzzle like a word search with words related to the upcoming school year. This allows students to focus on a task while you handle any first-day logistics.

Clear and Friendly Classroom Display

Ensure that your classroom is bright and welcoming. Display a colorful welcome message on the board and the day's schedule so students know what to expect. Including visuals like pictures or icons can be helpful, especially for students who might feel overwhelmed by too much text.

Introduce a Class Mascot

Having a class mascot or a fun stuffed animal can be a great icebreaker. Introduce the mascot during your morning meeting and explain how it will be a part of the classroom throughout the year. This can create a sense of camaraderie and give students something to look forward to.

Icebreaker Activities

Plan a few icebreaker activities to help students get to know each other. Activities like "Find Someone Who..." bingo or a simple sharing circle where each student shares their name and a favorite summer activity can be great ways to start building a classroom community.

Set Clear Expectations and Routines

While the first day should be fun, it's also important to start establishing classroom routines and expectations. Review the basic rules and procedures, but keep it light and interactive. To make it more engaging, you can use role-playing or group discussions.

Positive Reinforcement

Use positive reinforcement from the get-go. Praise students for following directions, being kind to one another, and participating in activities. This sets a positive tone and encourages good behavior from the start.

Open Lines of Communication

Let students know that they can come to you with any questions or concerns. Create an "Ask the Teacher" box where students can drop anonymous notes if they're too shy to ask something aloud. This shows that you are approachable and willing to help.

End the Day on a High Note

Finish the day with a fun, reflective activity. A simple craft, a story, or a class discussion about what they enjoyed can give students a positive memory of their first day. Remember to remind them how excited you are to have them in your class and how great the year will be.


Think of the first day of school as planting a garden. The classroom environment is the soil, which needs to be rich and welcoming to nurture growth. The activities and routines are the seeds you plant, each chosen to foster learning and curiosity. The encouragement and positive reinforcement are the water and sunlight, helping your students to bloom and thrive. By carefully tending to each aspect, you ensure that your garden—your classroom—flourishes throughout the school year.

 Cheers to a fantastic start to the new school year!