Last week we were thrilled to welcome a new student, Ruby, into our classroom community. The day before Ruby started school, several of my students had the opportunity to meet her during recess. Aaliyah showed her around our classroom and Julia told her all about what we do in school. Ruby's mom emphasized that this was a "big girl school," just like the school that Ruby's six-year-old sister Sonya attended. Ruby seemed a bit skeptical of everything, but she listened to what people had to say and was excited to play with all of the toys we had in the classroom.
When I told the rest of my students about Ruby later that day, they were fascinated. Mayala couldn't quite believe it; "You mean she's gonna be in our class? And she's gonna have a situpon [situpons are the cushions that my students sit on while we are on the carpet]? Whoa!" Jose was curious to know whether Ruby would be a boy or a girl. When I said she was a girl, he replied, "Aww, we need more boys!" A true fact, given that we only have three boys in our class! Overall, however, my students were thrilled about the prospect of having a new friend in school. They excitedly told their families everything they knew about Ruby, and I had several parents come in the next morning asking questions about this new friend.
When Ruby arrived in school the next morning, my students were thrilled. Even Malik, who often keeps to himself, came bounding up to me yelling, "Ruby is here! Ruby is here!" Julia took an instant fascination with Ruby. From the moment we walked to the classroom, she started commenting on everything that Ruby was doing. "Look, Ruby is walking in line with us!" and "She has a journal, just like me!" I shared Julia's excitement and prompted her to direct her comments to Ruby by saying things like, "Ruby, we both have journals!" Ruby was receptive to Julia's comments and frequently replied, "It's because I'm in big girl school now. I'm not in baby school any more."
Helping Julia see Ruby as a peer, not simply a novelty in our classroom, was a critical step during Ruby's first day. Throughout the week, Julia was able to show Ruby the routines and procedures of our classroom and include her in conversations and play scenarios. She has played a tremendous role in helping Ruby get acclimated to school, and will surely be a great buddy to her for the rest of the year.