Building trust in those first few weeks of a new school year is key to a successful relationship with your new intake of primary school children. And one vital way to do this is by showing you know their names!
As class sizes get bigger and classrooms expand, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember the names of the children sat in front of you.
We’ve put together a selection of tips, tricks and memory enhancing games to help you remember your new children’s names in those first few weeks!
As well as reinforcing the order of letters in the alphabet, arranging your class seating plan in alphabetical order will make remembering names a lot easier.
You could also have them line up for lunch in alphabetical order, or enter the room in this way too. This will help you match names to faces as you check off each child when they come or go.
Alternatively, you can always make associations based on where they’re sat and who they’re sat with. If certain groups of children are always together, you’ll be able to narrow down possibilities, rather than having too many names to guess from!
And you can always play a word association game. Why not go around the room and see if everyone can think of an adjective beginning with the same letter as their name, e.g. Clever Colin or Super Sasha.
This is a great game for practicing adjectives. Once you’ve been around the room once, see if you can come up with different describing words a second time round.
Play some memory games
There are a number of different memory games you can play to help everyone learn each other’s names in your class.
Go around the room and have every child say their name and something they like, e.g. I am John, I like chocolate. The next person then repeats it, and adds their own name and what they like.
As the teacher, you’ll go last and have to repeat every name and every like! It’s a great way to assist your memory and help you identify something with each child. You can always encourage pupils to help you if you go wrong and forget any.
Or, for something really fun which utilises movement, stand in a circle with your class and have a child say their name and then pick an action to go with it. They might raise a hand or wiggle a leg, anything at all!
The whole class then repeats the name and action, and the next person in the circle adds on another name and action. Work your way around the class, and see how many creative and amusing actions you end up doing.
It might seem silly, but it will definitely help you remember those names!
Children's names written on stones
On the first day back to school, having children make their own name tags or name cards for their desk is a great arts & craft activity which can help you learn names.
For something a little different you could gather some stones, let children pick one to represent them and then write their own name on it in a permanent marker.
Perhaps you could use the stones and a basket as markers to indicate when work is done, or save places at a lunch table?
If you need a helping hand with some names a few weeks in, why not create a birthday board for the classroom? Give each child a little counter or a piece of card, and have them write their birthday date and their name on it.
You can hang them all in the appropriate month on a calendar board. Call out each month, and when they come forward with their date, you’ll be able to jog your memory with their name!
Use subtle reminders
Other subtle reminders you can use to boost your memory include asking a direct question with the name of a child to the whole class, and seeing who answers.
And if you have a reward chart on the wall with children’s names, give a star to the pupil whose name you’ve just forgotten and have them add it to their name on the board, giving you the chance to sneak a look.
Whatever you use to jog your memory, just try and use children’s names as often as possible in conversation. Not only does it build a closer relationship with them, it also reinforces names in your head!