A new school year means new students and in some cases new students can have a hard time settling down.
It is not always the case with all children as some may be braver and more aware of the idea of school than others and that's ok! What you as the teacher must do is try to figure out ways you can help those new students who may be having a hard time settling in. They may need a little more reassurance than the other students and maybe a little bit more attention, but eventually, they will figure it out and adjust to their new environment in a positive way, especially with your help.
To help my students settle into a new classroom environment here are five main things I usually do.
1. Build or strengthen student|teacher relationships - With family away, the teacher is the one a student will look to. Your students will need you, especially if they feel wrapped up in emotion. Try from the first day to build a genuine relationship with your students paying attention to any specific behavior that can trigger a positive response from them. It may be something as simple as a "high five" when welcoming them into class. This will make them feel comfortable and happy to see you and in a way may eliminate their fears of being at school and away from their family, as they will see you as an extension of their family or someone they can trust.
2. Encourage parents to have a specific goodbye routine - This is something that should be simple and consistent as it will help children understand that though mummy or daddy or grandma are going away they will be back. Your students will grow accustomed to this routine and understand it on a much deeper level the more it is done.
3. Have a comforting item on hand - Children need something that can bring them comfort, especially in times like these. As a teacher it is helpful to ensure that you help your students with this by asking parents to provide a familiar item (provided that it doesn't go against your school policy). You too can find an item that can bring comfort to your students if they don't have one from home. Initially they may cling on to this item any and every time they feel emotional but usually after a while and once they start getting more comfortable in their new classroom environment they may quickly forget about this comforting friend of theirs!
4. Help your students manage their feelings - It is difficult for children to understand why they have to be away from their loved ones. School is a new environment and one they have yet to get familiar with. As a teacher it is helpful for both you and your students if you can help them manage their feelings. Calm their fears and try to minimize the impact of separation anxiety. You should acknowledge their feelings and show sympathy and or empathy. The more you do this it will enable your students to eventually understand their feelings and learn how to manage them as well.
5. Have a classroom routine - Children need routines not just for the mere purpose of having a schedule, but routines help them adjust to their surroundings and also enables them to become comfortable in their new classroom environment. They get used to doing certain things at certain times and this helps them develop a sense of familiarity in an environment which was once unfamiliar.
Though there are so many other things you can do to help your students settle in, these are just five main ones I consistently use as they are broad enough to cover all types of students and families without being too specific. Sometimes specificity can be excluding and the last thing you want is to exclude any student demographic.