We’re settling in. We’ve nearly completed our third week of school, and routines are beginning to come together. Although some children still need extra hugs before saying goodbye, and others express missing a parent, for the most part we’re getting used to being together again. It’s a time of new learning on many levels.
Names are important as we begin a new year. In classrooms, and in music with Jay, children are introduced to songs with each student’s name, for attendance and recognition purposes. The songs acknowledge each child’s presence. Kindergarten students practice spelling out their names using alphabet stamps, then decorate them with mixed-media materials. This exercise builds confidence and a sense of belonging. In other classrooms each child paints with watercolors on a piece of card stock with their name on it. Eventually it is laminated and serves as a placement for lunch and snack. Their names guide them to their place in the room.
The Preschool 4s students painted their place mats with names on them and added another layer of familiarity. The teacher asked parents to send photos of the child’s favorite things, which were printed and glued onto the child’s placemat. As each child completed this process, a teacher sat taking notes on what the child said about their favorite items.
As each new year begins, we work hard to learn all of the new children’s names. Staff members obviously learn the names of students in their own classes right away, along with parents’ names. On playground duty at different times of day with children from different classrooms, teachers then begin to learn names of other students. I find checking in students as they enter the playground to be an excellent opportunity to learn names.
Since I’m an administrator, I’m not tied to one class. I have my own practice with names. I start by learning the names of each new student, and as I’m learning their names, I match them up with their parents. Over time, I make a strong effort to learn the parents’ names, too, although I never seem to reach 100 percent. Still, I try. Some names are easier to remember than others. This year I am committed to learning more parent names, especially ones that are unique. I ask that you remain patient with me if I ask you for the correct pronunciation of your name, or if I forget and ask again. Each and every person involved in the Seed is important to me, and I hope our community will grow stronger in the days ahead as we address each other by name.