I know that many preschools don’t begin until after Labor Day, and while I absolutely encourage teachers to relax and enjoy a slow summer, there are seven things you should do right now (it’s practically August, you know) to prepare for teaching preschool in September.
As my regular readers already know, I’m a planner. I like to know what is coming ahead and while I enjoy surprises, when it comes to teaching I usually prefer to know exactly what to expect, and that often requires some planning. Every summer I go through my list of seven things I need to do each summer to prepare for teaching that will allow me to enjoy a smooth beginning of the school year in September (or in the case of this year, August!)
1. Take inventory of supplies and materials
The most important task I assign myself in the summer to prepare for teaching is to take inventory of my preschool supplies and materials. I go through all my preschool supplies to see which need replenished and which can last another year. I look at everything from the obvious like crayons and markers to glitter, play dough and recycled items. I also check how useful my supplies are. Are the markers dried out? Are the scissors still sharp enough for safe cutting practice? Is the playdough dried out or the colors too mixed up?
I also go through all my teaching materials. Because the materials are frequently (and mostly) handled by my students, it is important to make sure that they are still in good condition. I make sure that none of the manipulatives have broken or missing pieces. I ask myself if the materials are balanced and if I need to purchase more materials to support a particular discipline. And, I donate materials that I have not used in several years. Although that doesn’t really happen very often because teachers by nature are scared to death of getting rid of things, right?
2. Check the first aid kit
This is another biggie to prepare for teaching! There is nothing worse than having a student get scraped during outdoor play and not having any band aids on hand. I replenish the entire first aid kit during the summer. I like to refer to this list by the American Red Cross. Also, don’t forget to check expiration dates on things like antibiotic ointment and hydrogen peroxide.
3. Plan the first week of school
I know, you may still have several weeks before returning to the preschool classroom, but summer is a great time to collect new ideas for the first week of school. I try to have my first week completely planned out at least a month before the fall session begins. For the first week, my plan is more detailed than usual. I list specific books we will read each day, specific circle time activities, specific welcome and name songs…during the first week my plans are detailed and specific. I want to have enough ideas and order in my first week of lesson plans to allow for a few back-up plans if things don’t do exactly as I envision them.
When I was in college I had a professor who required a plan a, b, and c for every component in every lesson plan we wrote for her. I thought it was just tedious work, but now after teaching for over ten years, I understand the value of having a back-up plan.
4. Collect materials for the first day of school
Since I plan the first week in the summer, I also gather the materials I need for the first day of school. This year I’m borrowing an idea from Teach Preschool, which requires cans, so I’ll be collecting those in the next few weeks as I use them up. I put everything I will use in a dish tote that I just leave in a storage closet until the night before the first day of school. The night before the first day, I review its contents to make sure it it complete.
5. Make photo copies
Ok, there is not a lot of photo copying to do for preschool in general, but if you do have any printing and copying that needs to be done, it is nice to get it done early. I don’t do worksheets, which the exception of hand writing practice (because of the new common core standards), so I get those pages copied all at once and put them in file folders until I use them.
During the summer, I also make those special color copies, like pictures of the kids, which I use in all sorts of ways throughout the school year.
6. Preschool teacher survival kit
One thing that is so important to me that I take care of during the summer is updating my teacher survival kit. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest, and I love them all! I’ve made a special survival kit specific to me and teaching preschool out of my home. With the new addition of the toddler class, I have to make things even more accessible to me than they have been in the past. For example, since those little cuties follow me everywhere, that means no running upstairs to grab some saline solution when my contacts are giving me a hard time. So, I make sure to keep some in my teacher survival kit, among many other goodies.
7. Buy a new teaching journal
I love keeping a teaching journal. It is a place for me to write down ideas as they come to me, as well as record reminders. But most importantly, my teaching journal is a place for me to take note of what is working in my preschool program and what things need to be tweaked. I use daily report forms to observe and record the learning and behaviors of my preschoolers, and in many ways a teaching journal does the same for me. It is a way for me to put my ideas to paper, but also a way for me to keep track of my own progress as a teacher.