Blog post cover image about how to build relationships with students in preschool from day 1

As an educator, do you wonder how to build relationships with students from day one? Do you ever wonder, why build relationships with students? Or more importantly, do you struggle with how to connect with students in the classroom? 

If that sounds like you, I’m here to help. I’m going to share with you some strategies for building strong connections with your preschoolers from day one.  It will inspire you to put relationship building on the top of your to-do list!

Blog title for post on how to build relationships with students in preschool from day one.
This blog post is all about how to connect with students in the classroom and how to help students make connections.

Early on in my teaching career, I met  Luke. He was one of those kids who always seemed to get himself into trouble. Luke rolled around during group times. He touched everyone around him. He often said “no” to routine requests and appeared to not care at all about being kind to anyone.

HELP! I’m avoiding my student!

My natural feeling was to avoid interacting with him because it was just so hard and I had no idea how to deal with it. Ignoring him only made the situation worse. His behavior got worse and I knew I had to do something about it!

The next day, I began my mission to connect with Luke. Instead of avoiding him, he became someone I needed to figure out how to connect with. I implemented some key strategies which slowly built a friendship and a connection with him. As difficult as it was at first, the more we connected the better his behavior became. Luke helped me learn a very important lesson. The importance of building relationships.

Why Build Relationships with Students?

Many teachers feel the need to get down to the things they NEED to cover first. At the beginning of a school year, we have so much to do we often forget to focus on building connections. But building those relationships will make all the difference in your year.

Blog post about how to build relationships with students in preschool from day one
Why build relationships? At the heart of it, building connections will make all the difference to your classroom community.

I promise. If you put in the time to get to know your children and help them connect with each other, the rest of the year will run much smoother! There will be fewer behavioral issues, more engagement, happier children, and calmer teachers!

“Research shows that relationships are key to developing acceptance, self-esteem, and higher functioning thinking skills that contribute to positive learning and life outcomes.  “

ACECQA: Quality Area 5 Relationship with Children

As educators, we need to consider how we can build close, secure relationships with our students. 

What can we do to enable children to form not only positive relationships with us but develop positive relationships with each other? 

Here are some tips and tricks to start building relationships with your students from day one:

Connect With Your Students

a. Greet your preschooler by name. Be happy to see them every morning. Have you thought about creating a morning routine that includes a special morning greeting?

Check out this great video explaining the benefits of welcoming students daily.

b. Play together just for the sake of playing! Your preschooler will love seeing you in a dress-up or having you build with them in the block area. Playing and having fun together builds trust and positive memories. Put some music on and dance! Be silly. Laugh with your children! Connect with students to help them see you are human too!

A preschool communication game to play to build relationships with students.
These 3 speaking and listening games are a fun and interactive way to get children thinking, committing to an opinion, and justifying their answers. These activities for speaking and listening allow children to see that others may have a different point of view from them and that’s ok. It helps children share their thoughts with each other and that builds connection.

c. See each child. Spend time observing your children. Take note of their individual interests, strengths, and talents.  Acknowledge them and ask them about their interests, strengths, and talents.

Create lessons, experiences and read books centering around those interests, strengths, and talents. Set up that horse ranch dramatic play area for that child who loves horse riding. Play dance music on a Friday afternoon. Have a dance-off for that child who loves to dance! This will allow your children to feel like they are seen.

“More than anything, we all want to be seen, heard, and valued for who we are and what we bring into any space.”

Sara-Jane Lai from SPARK INTEREST WITH SARA
Quote from the blog post how to build relationships with stundets in preschool from day one
To connect with students we need to see them, hear them, and value them for who they are in that moment.

d. How are you feeling today? Group time catch-ups in the morning are a must in any classroom. 

What can you do to create that connection every morning?

What routine can you put into place to check in with each child? 

Create a safe place for children to share their feelings and express them.

With our young learners, be intentional about teaching them to use the words around describing how they are feeling. You can do this through intentional Identifying Feelings Lessons. Talk to your children about what you notice they might be feeling. 

This will help them identify and label those feelings and emotions.

For example, “Mo, I notice you started crying when Dad dropped you off this morning. Are you feeling sad because you miss him?”

Identifying feelings worksheets to help children identify feelings and emotions
Help children learn to label and identifying feelings using these Identifying Feelings Worksheets.

e. Open communication is important when it comes to building that connection with your students. Make sure they know they can always come to you if they need to. For those children who are a little more reserved, this might need you sitting next to them. Work on an activity together. Be there at first. That may be enough to start building that trust. Connections will come after that. 

Help Students Make Connections with Each Other

a. Encourage your students to share their talents, interests, and strengths with each other. You can do this by asking parents to send in photos of their child participating in that interest area. 

Make that child the expert of the interest area. Does that child have a talent in a particular sport? Have it available for the children to play. Invite the child to explain the rules of the game to the other children. 

b. Encourage the children to share what is important to them. What brings them pride? Children need to feel they are being seen and valued for who they are. This will allow for deeper connections with each other. 

c. Make sure you have plenty of teamwork games for preschool. This will help children build those connections with each other.  Be intentional about teaching the qualities of teamwork. Being able to work together will pay dividends later on. 

What sort of teamwork activities can you incorporate into your day? Team building games or challenges. Group artworks. Pairwork. Fort building. 

This will build a sense of community and comradery that will allow for a more harmonious environment. 

Teamwork-activities-for-preschool-help-to-build-relationships-in-the-classroom
Preschool Teamwork Activities are a great way for students to connect with each other and build relationships.

I wonder where Luke is right now? Pushing boundaries I am sure! He has no idea that he taught me the most valuable lesson I have learned about teaching. Actually about life. He taught me …

Relationships and Connections are EVERYTHING!

If you are looking for more ideas on friendship activities, check out my post below.  Grab some quick tips to fit friendship activities into your day:

5 Ways to Easily Fit Friendship Activities into Your Day

Check out these related articles to get more ideas on building connections in the classroom:

Making School About Connection

Building Positive Relationships with Students: What Brain Science Says

Relationships and Child Development

I’d love to hear what you do in your classroom. Leave a comment or connect with me on socials. 

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One last thing before you go, Don’t forget to grab my 👉🏼 FREE Conflict Resolution Booklet 👈🏼

Freebie link to conflict resolution booklet for teaching friendship skills to preschoolers
Download this Conflict Resolution Booklet to use in your preschool lessons on friendship.

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Hi! Welcome to Spark Interest with Sara!

I am a preschool teacher, a curriculum designer, a course creator and a mum to a gorgeous boy who keeps me on my toes! 

Creating and sharing inspiring educational resources and courses for teachers and parents is my passion! I wake up every day excited to be able to be part of nurturing young minds and hearts! 

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