The greeting is a great time for kids to 1) be welcomed into the community, and 2) hear their own name, which can be really powerful in the classroom, especially when everything is new! My favorite greetings for the very beginning of the year are super simple, and hopefully won’t intimidate your little ones as they navigate their first week or so of Kindergarten.
In the greeting, students are seated around the edge of the carpet in a circle/square/rectangle, so they can see everyone. It’s helpful for the teacher to model and start the greeting, as well as deciding which direction the greeting will travel around the group, at least for the first couple of weeks. The person doing the greeting will say “good morning” or “hi” and the next child’s name.
This is a great time to demonstrate what to do when you don’t know or don’t remember somebody’s name. Instead of using my own personal strategy I use when saying my daily “hello” to my neighbor of three years whose name I don’t know, but am too awkward to figure out at this point. In that case, I rotate ambiguous nicknames for him, like “Champ,” “Captain,” or “Boss.” Instead, I like to teach my kiddos to be more appropriate humans. Ask the person! Do as I say, not as I do, little ones. You can model the polite way to ask, “what’s your name?” or “Can you tell me your name?” and that it is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Once the greeting moves all the way around the group, back to the teacher, the greeting is complete!
A variation on this, for the first day, is to have students say their name when it is their turn, and the group as a whole can greet them. This takes away a little of the pressure to remember/ask names.
While there are tons of intricate and fun greetings out there that accompany the actual “hello,” I find that it is best to start out VERY EASY in Kindergarten, and add the fun later on.
These are my top three favorites for the very start of the year.
This is just an exaggerated wave, where kids move their hand in front of their body from one side to the other in the shape of a rainbow.
I have faith enough in you, the reader, that I needn’t explain this one to you. However, I do suggest modeling an appropriate high five for the carpet, or things can get aggressive. Hands flying everywhere. Greetings are all fun and games until someone takes a palm to the face on their first day of school.
Pass an Object
Perhaps my favorite for the first day, in this greeting students just pass an object to the next person while they greet them. Some appropriate objects: a stress ball, small stuffed animal or bean bag. Some inappropriate objects would be: live animals or anything that you do not want instantly covered in the flu. I like this greeting because, like the high five, it works in a little hand-eye coordination and extra interaction between peers.
Do not be surprised if you have a child or two who suddenly, or not so suddenly, do not want to talk when it is their turn to participate in the greeting. The first few days or weeks can be a lot of stimulation! A couple of ways to include those students in the greeting without pushing the verbal aspect, are:
- Ask if they want to just wave/pass the object to the next person without saying hello. A silent hello, if you will.
- Have the group say “hello” to your shy guy, and then move on to the next person.
- Have the next person say “hello” to the quiet kiddo, and then move on to the next child in the sequence.
Greetings are a great way to cultivate a sense of community in the classroom, especially in the beginning of the year when students can be nervous or high energy when entering the classroom. It is a great way to ease into the start of the day, welcome every member of the class, and get everyone familiar with the names of their peers. These can get complex and filled with fun and creativity later in the year once routines and rules are in place. Stay tuned for some examples later in the year!