5 Easy Ways to Build a Relationship with Students at the Beginning of the Year

This photo showcases fun and engaging back to school resources that are perfect for building relationships with students.

There’s nothing quite like the fun and excitement of a brand-new school year, right? New school supplies, new topics to explore, and new faces in your classroom! One of many teachers’ top priorities at the beginning of the year is finding ways to make students feel comfortable and excited to be in your room. There’s no denying that this is key to starting the year off on the right foot! If you’re nodding your head in agreement, come along to hear 5 easy ways to build a relationship with students!

Why It’s Important to Build a Relationship with Students

There are a number of reasons why the beginning of the year is the best time to focus on relationship building. First off, if you work with primary students – they might be feeling nervous! The beginning of the year is stressful for everyone and even a little bit scary at times. This is especially true for the youngest students. Trust and safety are two very important things in the classroom. Building a relationship with our students fosters these things and helps ease some of those first-day jitters and worries.

This image shoes a teacher building relationships with students by talking with them.

Another key reason to build a relationship with students right off the bat is to help them see that you’re on their team. The dynamic between teachers and students can sometimes feel a little tricky. While on one hand, we are in a place of authority and need to be in charge, we also want our students to know we care about them deeply and want to have a friendly relationship too. Just as this rings true for parents, finding a balance is key to classroom success! By focusing on building a relationship at the beginning of the year, you can help find that balance right away!

Last, taking the time to build a relationship makes school a better place for everyone. No one would want to show up to a job with co-workers who felt like strangers right? By fostering a relationship with kiddos, you will make your classroom space far more enjoyable. Children will enjoy being there and you’ll enjoy having them. It’s a win for everyone involved!

5 Easy Ways to Get Started

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry friend! I’ve got 5 super simple ways you can build a relationship with your students right away!

1. Introduce Yourself Before School Starts

Building relationships with students can start in the summer with a postcard or meet the teacher letter. This image shows a teacher putting letters in a mailbox.

This first idea is one that always lands near the top of my list because it’s so impactful! As teachers, we often get our list of new students sometime over the summer break. For some, it might be closer to the first day, while others might have more time to play with. No matter which camp you fall in – this tip can work for you!

If you know who will be in your classroom before school starts, consider drafting a personal letter to send out. This doesn’t have to be super lengthy or complicated, just a quick and simple note about you and your favorite things is a fun way to introduce yourself. It’s also a fun idea to include a picture of yourself too! Another fun option is writing individual postcards to your students. This one takes a bit more time since each one is individualized, but it sure is impactful!

If you don’t find out who will be in your class until right before showtime, don’t fret! You can pass out these letters on the first day of school as an icebreaker to students. Oh and don’t forget the parents too! A nice, informal “meet the teacher” letter, email, or phone call is always well-received at the start of a new year.

2. Use Thematic Teaching to Start the Year off Right

This image showcases engaging back to school activities that can be used when you start to build a relationship with students.

If you’ve been around here a while, you probably already know that thematic teaching is my jam! I absolutely love diving into a new theme every month and it turns out students do too! This is one of my favorite ways to build a relationship with students at the start of the year since it offers a chance to show kids that being in your room is going to be FUN!

When you choose a theme like All About Me, Back to School, or Apples to kick off the year, your kids will quickly see what kind of activities they can expect from you. Since I’m all about making a great first impression, it’s my mission to make sure these activities are extra fun! But don’t worry friends, this doesn’t mean that learning takes a back seat. With the right activities, you can ensure students are focusing on key math and literacy concepts while having so much fun they don’t even know they’re learning!

Inside my Seasonal Bundle of Activities and Centers, you’ll find a thematic unit for every topic under the sun! With fresh themes to choose from every month, you’ll be set for the beginning of the year all the way through to the end. Plus, each unit is jam-packed with engaging centers, group activities, writing prompts, mini readers, crafts, and so much more! These thematic teaching units will be your best friend when it comes to building relationships with your kiddos.

3. Plan Fun Morning Meetings to Build a Relationship with Students

Mornings can make or break your day as a classroom teacher. Starting off on the wrong foot never makes for a productive or happy day in my experience. One of my best tips for making mornings great and building a relationship with students is to utilize a morning meeting. During this time, especially at the beginning of the year, you can focus on getting to know your new crew.

Morning meetings and read alouds like the one shown in this photo are the perfect way to build a relationship with students at the beginning of the year.

A fun option for this is to start each day off with a morning question or survey. These questions can be silly or fun and are a great way to get your students talking! Just write the question of the day on the board and have students think about it as they get settled. Then, take a poll during your morning meeting and open the floor for conversation. Not only will this help you build a relationship with your students, but it will also help them get to know their peers!

Another fun option for morning meetings is read-aloud time. If you know me, you already know I LOVE picture books! Start each day off with a fun and engaging read-aloud to excite your students for the day ahead!

4. Follow Up with Engaging Morning Work

After your exciting morning meeting, it’s only fair to follow it with some fun morning work too! As a classroom teacher, this helps build a relationship with your students as they learn to expect fun things every morning in your room! There’s nothing better than knowing that each day you come to school, the day will start off with fun learning activities right away. By being super intentional with the types of morning work you select, you can foster this expectation into your room and in turn build a relationship with students.

Fun morning work, like the color by code resources in this image, are a great way to build a relationship with students by showing that you care about their interests!

My go-to for engaging morning work that is easy to use and low-prep is always color by code. The reason for this is that once students know how to use it, they can easily be independent. No need to hover or watch over every step as they go. Another great benefit to color by code activities is that they are super simple to differentiate. No matter what level your students are working at, you can ensure everyone has a page that’s tailored to them!

But my favorite reason for using color by code is that it’s super engaging for students! Kids especially love starting the day off with Mystery Pictures! This version of color by code reveals a fun picture as students correctly color the pages in. Many of these activities in my store focus on CVC words, but they are all editable so you can add your own skills and concepts to make these suit your learners! Not to mention, the seasonal themes for each set make these activities simple and easy to incorporate all year long.

5. Use Fun Centers to Build a Relationship with Students

This photo shows back to school math centers that students can use to practice skills like counting and number recognition.

Center time is everyone’s favorite time! This has always been true in my room. Another fantastic way to build a relationship with students is to plan fun and engaging center activities that they will love. Not only will this make classroom learning more fun, but it will open opportunities for you to laugh and learn together as students work. Many of the center activities we use also incorporate fine motor skills as an added bonus! Clip cards and puzzles are a great way to strengthen those hand muscles as you cover key skills.

Another one of my absolute favorite activities for center time to keep students engaged is Search and Find. These activities have a “Where’s Waldo?” feel to them as students search a seasonal picture to find letters, numbers, CVC words, or sight words. Add a magnifying glass and you’ve got a recipe for instant engagement! Not only will your students love these activities, but you’ll love seeing how simple and easy they are for keeping kiddos on task.

Another important thing to note about engaging in center activities is that they lend a bigger opportunity for building relationships in your classroom. What I mean by this is that when the majority of your class is engaged in independent learning activities like Search and Find, your time is opened up for meaningful connections in small groups. Independence in the classroom means more time for you to work one on one with students, check in on how they’re doing, and make sure everyone is getting what they need. For best results, solidify your center routine early on in the year to reap the most benefits from this opportunity!

Primary teacher tip – make sure to nail down back to school procedures and routines first though. If you know, you know!

Build a Relationship Easily with Students

This photo highlights a great "getting to know you" activity that students and teachers can fill out at the beginning of the year to start building relationships.

I hope you found something new to try in this post. I think the biggest takeaway here is to be intentional with the moments and opportunities that you have. As teachers, we’re often pulled in a million different directions. It can feel really tricky to manage this and meet everyone’s needs. But, when we’re intentional to squeeze relationship-building activities into our day, it can really add up!

So consider starting the year with a fun introduction, plan out a fun morning meeting, and choose engaging thematic activities to make the process of building a relationship with students a little easier! The compound effect of these activities is huge when it comes to making students excited to be at school with you. I promise it pays off big time as you foster a sense of community among your students!

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Be sure to pin this post on your back to school Pinterest board to keep track of these ideas to build a relationship with your students.

Building relationships with students is so crucial at the beginning of the year! In this post, I share 5 easy ways to build a relationship with students that you can start implementing even before the school year starts!