So you're about to start your first day as a preschool teacher...

Animated GIF of preschool students running around in chaos.

It doesn't have to be like this!

If you keep your students engaged with some helpful tips, the day will go smoothly.

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Tip #1: Have a PLAN!

GIF of kid unrolling a

If you have a mentor teacher, plan with them. Things to include in your plan:

✅ Bathroom breaks (lots of 'em)

  • set reminders to use the bathroom if there's one in your classroom

GIF of little girl dancing like she needs to use the restroom.

✅ Keep things moving

  • no activities should take more than 10 minutes

Classroom setting with a teacher standing in front of a blackboard and smiling at her students sitting behind desks Photo by April Walker on Unsplash

✅ Engaging, interactive books to read aloud

  • The booksPress Here and Mix It Up!, both by Herve Tullet, are great places to start. Find these books and more here.

A woman looking at a book and reading it out loud to two young kids. Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

✅ Engaging, hands-on activities

  • blocks

  • painting

  • stickers

  • play dough

  • construction cubes

Close up image of a kids desk with wooden alphabets on trays with playdough containers on the sides Photo by Gautam Arora on Unsplash

✅ Most importantly:

  • establish rules, routines, and expectations

  • incorporate many opportunities to practice them throughout the day

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Tip #2: Arrive Early

Arriving early will give you valuable extra time to prepare for the day.

Characters from the show Gilmore Girls, with the text:

Once the students arrive...

  • introduce yourself and then learn all of their names quickly or use name tags.

  • allow students to explore the classroom in a structured way to harness curiosity and help them to look forward to activities they'll be doing later.

image of a playschool classroom Photo by Monica Sedra on Unsplash

Tip #3: Build Relationships

Two preschool teachers giving each other high fives.

Keep students on track and following expectations by:

✅ Setting clear expectations when engaging in hands-on activities (you'll need to decide what those expectations are ahead of time).

✅ Building relationships because "kids don't learn from people they don't like."

✅ See great behavior? Give specific praise. You can give high fives or stickers to reward good behavior.


I love the way you are sitting on your bottom in your chair while playing with the play dough!

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Bonus: Draw attention to how their great behavior positively affects someone else.


I love the way you're sitting on your bottom in your chair while playing with the play dough! Since you're sitting so nicely, it makes it easier for all of us to move around the room if we need to.

⚡Check Your Knowledge!

A. Maureen has spent hours setting up her classroom. She has written down all of her expectations for behavior and posted them around the room. She has organized and labeled all the materials the school provided for her but she hasn't made any plans for those materials.

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B. Ziya has set up her classroom and organized all materials. She has planned her day into 10-minute increments with several backup activities. She has prepared the stories she will read with questions and made sure they're interactive. She will arrive early.

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C. Ken arrived early on his first day. He has all materials prepared and organized and most of his lesson plans done. He has a couple of books he checked out from the library but hasn't read them ahead of time.

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D. Ernesto has been thinking of his first day for a while but doesn't think he needs to write down any of his plans. He knows he'll remember it all. He's not sure what his expectations are for the class but figures the students can help.

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Which teacher is best prepared for their first day in preschool?

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