Tips for having a classroom visitor come to your preschool

We had our first “official” classroom visitor come to preschool last week.. Our visitor was Coyote Chris from Silly Safari and he came with a bunch of little critters – boy did our kids love it!…

Where will the visitor present and where will the children sit?

Since I had seen Chris share his critters before, I already knew how to prepare for Chris’s arrival.  First, I set out chairs for the children to sit in rather than having them sit on the floor.  Because Chris would be bringing animals, I wanted to be sure the children had a specific place to sit. I knew if they sat in chairs, they would be less likely to scoot closer and closer to Chris while he shared the animals. The chairs provided a boundary, if you will, for Chris to easily and safely share his animals with us…

Know what the visitor plans to bring and do…

I also knew that Chris would have lots of unique animals to pull out in front of the children.  It is a good idea to discuss with the children what to expect and what they should do (or not do) while the visitor is present. If you don’t know what the visitor is planning to talk about, bring, or do – be sure to ask your visitor some good questions ahead of time so you and your students are prepared…

Know how long the visitor will stay…

You want to know exactly what time the visitor will be arriving and approximately how long his presentation will be. This will help you know if you need to adjust your schedule for things like snack time or center time…

Know if the visitor has experience talking to young children

Chris speaks to early childhood groups all the time and he does a terrific job keeping children engaged and keeping things moving along. If your visitor is not skilled at speaking with preschoolers, chances are you will have to help him or her out. It is a good idea to get references from other programs, like yours, on the visitor if they are available. If references are not available, then be sure to ask the visitor what kind of experience he or she has in presenting or talking to young children…

Don’t make the children participate

A visitor can sometimes make young children a little uncomfortable at first. In this case, Chris was immediately liked by the children but some of his critters were a little less inviting.  Some of our children did not wish to touch the animals and we respected their wishes. Don’t coax or make a child do something out of their comfort zone when a visitor arrives. If a child wishes to be just an observer, rather than a participant, then let that be okay. On the other hand, we had other children that were more than happy to hold or pet the animals Chris brought with him…

Know how much the visitor will charge and have a check ready…

Chris makes a living out of visiting schools and sharing his animals, so naturally, his visit was not free. Make sure you are ready to pay the visitor before he or she leaves. Confirm the amount, time, and date of the visit before hand…

Do you need a permission slip?

And in some cases, you may need to send home permission slips informing parents of your visitor and making sure that there isn’t any reason a child should not take part in the presentation. Perhaps there is an allergy, or extreme fear of animals, or other issue. By sending home a permission slip, the parent can decide if they want their child to participate or not in the presentation…

Will you charge the parents a fee?

I know some childcare programs pass the cost of the visitor along to the parents. A visitor such as this is viewed just like a field trip would be viewed, only it would be referred to as an in-house field trip.  If you plan to pass the cost along to parents, then be sure to include that information in your permission form plenty early so parents have time to prepare…

Our first visitor was a great success! My students loved the animals and Chris did a wonderful job keeping his presentation fun, engaging, and age appropriate.  I hope you enjoyed our visitor today too and learned something in the process…

By |2012-01-16T06:00:25+00:00January 16th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.

9 Comments

  1. Leeanne A January 16, 2012 at 6:51 am - Reply

    Oh that guy seems wonderful and you have shared some great tips – looks like the day went perfect!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 16, 2012 at 8:09 am - Reply

      It was a huge success:) The parent’s said the children talked about the animals at home too which is always a good sign!

  2. Brenna January 16, 2012 at 6:56 am - Reply

    Classroom visitors and special guests are great. I invite people in to the classroom all the time, especially during Community Helpers week. Many of them are parents of students in the class so they are more than happy to share in class and they are free.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 16, 2012 at 8:10 am - Reply

      Inviting parents to come is always a good idea Brenna:) And free is even better!!

  3. indi January 16, 2012 at 7:11 am - Reply

    Oi, maravilhoso teu trabalho! Parabéns. Já estou seguindo você.
    Faça uma visita em meu blog e seja nossa amiga também!!
    Ficariamos muito felizes.
    abraço, Indi

  4. Mommy With Selective Memory January 16, 2012 at 7:40 am - Reply

    Wow, this looks so fun! The kids in your class are so lucky! And the parents too, I’d love to see what my daughter is doing all day! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the linky!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 16, 2012 at 8:11 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing with us too!

  5. Joan January 16, 2012 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Wow – what a fun time with Chris! Wish that he could come to NC! I always invite former students who are now big kids in big school to come read to my class. My little ones can then ask questions about what kindergarten is really like! This is great for my class and also gives the” big kid” self-confidence. We limit this activity to about 15 minutes with the book and the question-answer period. We then present our visitor with a special bookmark ! Fun for everyone!!!!

  6. TheBargainBabe January 16, 2012 at 11:17 am - Reply

    Great tips. The safari guy looks like lots of fun. 🙂

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