Even though the first day of school at The Oaks is a half day, it is packed with powerful interactions. This is especially true for our youngest students as many have never been to school before. Between all the excitement – and sometimes tears – of arriving at school that first morning, our teachers are preparing their students for a successful 10-year experience through The Oaks Academy. Letters, numbers, and Bible readings will soon fill their days, but first, our students begin their journey of habit development to help them become strong learners!
Starting on the first day of school, students are greeted by name with a smile by every adult they see as they enter the building. Very soon after, students are taught how to independently greet their teachers by name in return. Although students have their own responsibility in this greeting, they are taught to wait until their teacher finishes before they respond to learn the Habit of Respect. This back and forth interaction is a powerful brain building action, and the inclusion of hearing their own name is music to the student’s ears! Day by day, this habit, and the relationship between student and teacher, grows stronger and their smiles wider.
On the first day, students are shown their hooks that hang in the hallway or classroom where they put up their backpacks. The small action of carrying their own bag and placing it on the hook alone is the first step in learning the Habit of Responsibility. Students then walk inside the classroom and have time for free play at their tables before the day begins. When students are given time to engage in activities by themselves or with others, teachers are helping them practice the Habit of Respect again, but with their peers and items this time. Students are taught to ask if they can play with each other or the items laid out for use, and then to listen and respond to the answer given to them.
Throughout the morning, teachers and instructional assistants spend a few minutes with each student, getting to know them individually. Teachers also explain school and classroom expectations, such as walking down the hall in a straight line with their hands tucked into “ducktails” and how to sit on the rug properly. Classes then take turns exploring the playground and learning the rules that will keep them safe on each piece of playground equipment. This intentionality with how and where to move, even outdoors, lays the foundation for the Habit of Obedience. Learning to respond immediately and completely to directions from their first day of school makes learning easy. Parents often find that after just a few days practicing this habit, days and nights at home become easier as well.
These lessons may seem trivial, but they prepare students for a rigorous education by building the resilience that makes hard things easy. By forming healthy habits and relationships, every child becomes capable of the duty and delight of learning. Students at The Oaks learn very early that although a lesson may be difficult, a trusted adult will help them. They also learn that they can do hard things, and challenge and triumph will come from doing something difficult you previously thought you could not do. Our youngest students in particular learn this over and over, developing an internal fortitude that lasts for years to come!
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