3 Ways to Welcome New Students

3 Ways to Welcome New Students

How do you welcome new students to your school?  Our school is a family.  We are so very fortunate to have a tight knit community with supportive staff, parents, and welcoming students.  The students are always so excited to meet the "new kid" but being this new kid can be quite daunting.  If you have ever moved then you can empathize and understand the amount of change that takes place.  When a student moves from one school community to another their entire world is rocked and big changes take place.  This is a transition that school counselors should be equipped to handle.  As the counselor in your building, how do you support the new students?  Here are a few ways in which we support our new student population each year.  

Host a New Family Orientation

Every summer before everyone returns to school, we host a new family orientation.  The new family orientation is an event for all new students and their families to join.  In collaboration with our Parent Teacher Organization, we run this event each August just a week or so before the first day of school.  During this event, our PTO sets up a table for new parents to learn more about our school and various volunteer opportunities.  We also invite a number of fifth grade students to join the event.  These students make the event very special as they can speak directly to the new students and provide firsthand experiences on how to navigate the school.  One or two of our fifth grade students even prepare a short speech about our school and why it is special!  Our principal and assistant principal also review important points for parents and students to know.  As the counselor, I introduce myself and explain my role.  I like to advocate any chance I can get!  After presentations are complete, the fifth grade students take the new families on a tour of our building.  By the end of the event, the new families have mingled and gotten to know one another just in time for the year to begin!  

Facilitate a New Student Small Group

During our first few weeks of the school year, I make sure to focus a lot on the new families and their children.  Another way that I welcome these students is by inviting them to a small group during lunch time.  I prepare a special lunch bunch invitation and drop this off to students in their classroom.  This invitation includes the time, date, and a short note about our special lunch together.  I typically invite between 3-5 new students per group to lunch.  During our lunch, we get to know one another, play an icebreaker or two, and then I have each student complete a new student banner.  Before finishing up, I take a picture of each student and this is what makes up our special new student bulletin board each fall.  

Create a New Student Bulletin Board

Ideally you can decorate a bulletin board in a central location that has a lot of foot traffic so the students and staff in the building can begin to recognize the new students by name.  After you complete your lunch bunch groups, you can create the bulletin board and hang up all of the beautiful pennant flags that the students created!  It might look something like this!  You can find the product here!

You may also want to check out the New Student Activities that I use with new students throughout the school year.  This resource can be found here and includes the following:
-Get to know you questions
-Feelings activity
-Goal setting for the new student
-What I wish my counselor knew (also includes social worker & school psychologist)
-What I wish my teacher knew

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