First-School-Day Dismissal

I’m wondering what tips you have for easing in and out of dismissal on that first day of school. Sure, school situations and classrooms vary, yet I’m guessing most teachers face similar concerns. Who is authorized to pick up whom? Which students are permitted to walk home? Which kids are in afterschool programs? Are bus riders getting on the correct buses? Gosh, my palms are beginning to sweat!

Tell us how you prepare for first-day departure, and we’ll enter your name in our current giveaway for a new book from The Mailbox and some school supplies from me! (If you already responded to Giveaway Number 2!, this gives you a second chance to win!) Just be sure to post your tip before midnight EDT Monday, August 20.


Congratulations to Patti! She’s the winner of our second giveaway!

48 thoughts on “First-School-Day Dismissal

  1. Where I first started teaching we had busing. On each child’s name tag I placed the bus number on it. The last thing we did was double check the tag and remove it.I did this right at the bus doors.

    Now that I work where we only have Parent pickup I place the name of the Parents on the name tag. 1. It helps you learn the Parent names. I stand at the exit and remove the tags.

    I also am very verbal with Families prior to the start of school about placing on the emergency card whoever may pick up your child. I made a permission slip that when Mom or Dad are not picking up they fill out saying who is coming. I collect them at drop off that day and have them with me at pickup and check IDs.

  2. I do lots of communication with parents. We have meet the teacher before school starts and I have parents fill out forms asking how their child will get home on the first day and then on the second day and forward. If a parent does not come, I call home to find out. Communication is key to a successful first day!

  3. The first day of school…it was a one day honeymoon as Day 2 kept me hopping! Today is Day 3 and I have to admit that I’m grateful it is Friday…nice to start with a short week and now that I know more about my new kids I plan to make some changes this weekend!

    I do like my end of the day routine. The kids all have a little 3X5 journal (Thanks Target) and they’ve been writing in them as their exit ticket. So far they’ve shared what has been the best part of their day and I’ve been able to quickly respond with a short comment.

    As far as who goes where, etc, we live in a small village and our home school facilitator and bus driver take care of that (whew!) and for me it is fairly hassle free…just have to get them out of my classroom on time!

  4. On the first day of school-at dismissal time, I start my ritual of giving them a high five with my huge plastic “slapper/clapper” hand. They ask for it if I don’t get to the door before the bell goes off.

  5. Here is a question for any pre-k teacher.

    My parents are asking me if I will be teaching their children about time and money. I thought this was for 1st grade but am I wrong. Please let me know. If we do teach this, is it all money concepts?


  6. I am extremely lucky! Our attendance clerk gets all of the information and prints it out for us by the end of the first day of school. We check with our class and if someone thinks they should be doing something different, she calls home and checks for us. She is the best!

  7. We graph how each student is getting home on a large classroom graph. I use little buses for bus students little cars for car pick ups, and little people for walkers. This really preps them. I also get the students bus buddies from an older classroom to make sure that they get to their destination.

  8. We will have meet the teacher on Monday and we will have our parents fill out transportation forms then on how their child will get home. Our transportation tags will be colored coded this year to ease dismissal at our school.

  9. Our bus coordinator makes color coded bus tags for the first couple of weeks of school. We pass those out and the bus students are released about 5 minutes early. They go into the gym and are lined up by routes. It works well once the kids get into a routine.

  10. At Open House we ask parents to confirm how the student travels home. We make name tags (car, bus, walker, daycare) for students to wear each day and emphasize that students MUST know how he/she goes home. Parents must provide a note in writing for any changes. Parents appreciate that student safety is a priority so this helps us with the first week and the entire year!

  11. I love organization so I have an Excel spreadsheet (thanks to my colleague who created it!) and it lists the buses by number and car riders. I type in all the info and put it by my door. For children with custody issues, I add that to the bottom. It makes life a lot easier! I also communicate to parents MANY times that if their child’s transportation changes, they MUST notify the office or let me know in writing. Verbal communication via a student is not acceptable. I prefer written notes in the event there is trouble!

  12. We ask the students as they arrive how they are getting home. We write it on a class roster. If they are not sure someone in office calls home and asks. The list is returned signed so that we know its right. Then as we drop the kids at their dismissal spot ( assigned bus room/car lot/walker line/daycare van line/afterschool room) we collect their name tag. Teachers at each spot have a list of who should be in that room and they check off as they enter to be sure they have everyone!

  13. For the first week of school, we give our students labels that state how the kids get home. The students that are parent pick up all line up in one spot. The students that take the bus home line up in a different spot. They also have on their labels which bus they take with the bus stop. It helps to keep things organized.

  14. We have Meet the Teacher Night before students even come. I will be having my parents clip their child’s name with a clothespin to a circle hanging on a ribbon. There is a circle for front door, back door, daycare van, bus, and car riders. For bus riders, I will be color coding their dismissal clips according to their bus color. Additionally, my school makes color-coded bus tags that I have to distribute to bus students as they are called– It is their ticket to their bus line.

    I also will be having any/all of my kindergarten students who have an older sibling assisting with dismissal meet their younger sibling in the foyer (front door). Additionally, I am asking parents to come to the foyer (front door) to help their child out of the building. Our school has about 400 students K-5 in it, so I don’t want to lose anybody!

  15. Don’t assume the way they came to school is the same as how they go home. I have many parents drive students to school the first day, but they are supposed to take the bus back home. This also causes problems because the bus driver won’t know that child and the child won’t know what bus to go to. Clear all that up before the end of the day!

  16. I teach at a primary school (Pre-K and K only) that consists of over 400 four, five, and six year olds! We have our dismissal down to a science! Each bus is assigned an animal name (horse, giraffe, octopus, etc) and each animal is assigned a color (brown for horse bus, orange for giraffe bus, purple for octopus bus, etc). Each child has a “ticket” in the color of their bus and a picture of the animal along with their name, address, and teacher’s name. The students must have a ticket to load the bus. It makes it very easy for staff to know if a student is in the wrong line or getting on the wrong bus because their ticket color won’t match everyone else’s around them! For the first two weeks, we zip-tie one of these tickets on each backpack so they are easier to spot! With so many little ones, it is really helpful to be color coded!!

  17. We have kids nametags with their bus number and destination or write if they are a car rider or walker for the first week or so, unto they and we have it memorized.

  18. I make sure between our kindergarten orientation and the first day parents will out how their child will get home. They make an apple tag for a pick up and a bus tag if they are taking the bus home. The bus tag will include the bus # and the child’s address. I make sure there is also a paper copy of all of this. Often parents will not put them on the bus the first day of school, so I make sure they fill out an apple and a bus with the date on it. The parents are told all tags need to come back for the first week of school.

  19. Make sure you start early enough, first of all! We start getting ready for dismissal 30 minutes before dismissal until my students get the hang of it. What is also helpful is that our school does a “mock dismissal” after lunch on the first day of school so everyone knows where they are supposed to be.

  20. We do not have busing but as our school day starts to close I have DEAR Time (Drop Everything And Read) while I am reading to them I dismiss tables to pack up by nodding to them. Then we walk over to the pick up line and sit quietly until everyone is picked up or goes to aftercare.

  21. I usually have a sheet where parents check how their child is getting home on the first day. I get as many parents as I can feel it out the night they come in to meet the teacher and see their classroom. Any other parents I try to get how their child is going home on the first day

    I fill out nametags I use for the first day of school. My bus riders have bus nametags that have their name and what bus they ride. The other students have different nametags with their name and how they are getting home whether parent pickup or which daycare. Then I line them up together by how they are getting home.

  22. Have parents write first day and the normal way for the rest of the year at supply night before the child’s first day.

    I also have the students help me create a picture graph of the way they go home most often on the first day of school that I hang by the classroom door. It is fun to see their little drawings all year long and can be used for a great reference later.

    Everyday we deliver students to their pick-up spot; bus lines, afterschool care, and then wait for parents to pick-up their child personally in our front lobby/front porch area.

  23. I teach kindergarten. I am always concerned about dismissal on the 1st day. Parents fill out a transportation form at Meet the Teacher night. I double check bus #s with parents and our transportation coordinator. I print labels for bus riders with their name, bus #, and the address they will be dropped off. I also include sibling names. We also make sure that our younger students are seated at the front of the bus. I also print labels for day care vans & car riders. Many times our younger students are shy and have a hard time giving information.

  24. To make dismissal less stressful the first few days I do several things… 1) I have parents full out an information sheet for me when they come to Meet the Teacher day before school starts. I get transportation info on that sheet. 2) As soon as the student arrives on day 1 I record their bus/route home info on a chart and check to see if it matches the info from parents (bus drivers write their # on the hands of all K-1 graders before exiting the bus). If I don’t have the dismissal info for a child I let the office know first thing in the morning and they call home or work to find out.

    We line up in bus order (buses in same spots each day) and walk the kids to each bus.

  25. We have a supply drop-off day before school starts and we put out a list for the parents to write down their child’s afternoon transportation. Most of our students ride the bus, so they need to let us know the route number. When students arrive the first day, the non-“homeroom” teachers (special ed, resource, counselors, etc.) put a tag on every kid’s book bag with their route number. We double check these with what their parents told us to make sure. We send a list to the office that morning so they can sort out any confusions and they give us back the list by the end of the day.

    On the first day, I dismiss any car riders to the office first. Then I pair/group up any students who ride the same route. We are required to walk all K-2 students to the bus every day, so we line up and walk out toward the bus loop. We start at the back of the bus line and go bus-by-bus and put our students on. It goes slowly the first week or so, but it gets smoother. I carry my bus list with me at first, but I quickly learn all their route numbers. Our biggest frustration the first week of school is that we are on a late schedule and our buses have routes before our school and are often delayed the first week. That can make for some late afternoons!

  26. My first day dismissal organization begins before school starts. I make two copies of my chart with bus numbers, and car riders, and walkers. One copy is on my clip board and the other is posted by the door. At Open House I double check the information with the parents and send any corrections to our SIMS operator.
    On the first day of school children put their back packs away – bus riders in one closet and car riders/walkers in another. We practice dismissal procedures so they are aware of how it will work.
    A few minutes before they call for bus riders, two students hand out the back packs and my bus riders line up according to bus number. We take turns among our grade level escorting them out. The car riders and walkers get their packs next and sit on the carpet waiting for the call for them to leave. They line up and are taken to the driveway. We pretty much follow this procedure all year and it works great!

  27. I have parents fill out a How do I get Home Survey. I find this very helpful because we have over 30 buses in our school on top of after school vans and parent pickup. This year I am going to do a graphing activity about how I get home from school today. I also give students a tag that is attached to their backpacks about how they get home.

  28. I always give my kids a bus ticket to get on their bus and tell them that they cannot get on their bus until I get their bus ticket. I write their bus number on the ticket to double check and make sure I load them on the right bus. I always tell my kids I love them before they load cars/buses.
    I ALWAYS call parents about an hour later and make sure the kids got home on the right. The parents are always very appreciative of me taking the time to check on their children and I get the peace of mind that I got them on the right bus.

  29. We have an open house prior to the first day. The children return with their “Teacher Information Card”, if the parents did not fill it out at open house. At the end of the day, I know exactly how each child gets home. We go to the lobby in a line and they sit in a designated area until their ride arrives. At 3:15 I take the remaining students to “After Care”.

  30. I teach VPK and have some children leaving at 12:00 and others that stay for wraparound care. I speak to each parent as they pickup and sign out their child. We know before hand who is picking up. Each child removes their bee from the hive and places it in the basket for the next day.

  31. Pick up time for Pre-K can be very nerve racking but I’ve tried to follow these few steps daily.1 students sit in circle time area 2.I open our classroom door and call out student’s name when I see their parents.3 We give each other a thumps up and see you tomorrow.

  32. I have a pocket chart with a card for each student’s name. I hang the pocket chart outside the main door. The sections of the pocket chart have titles: bus rider, walking, car, after care. As I greet the kids, I ask them to put their name card in the appropriate pocket. This helps me to make visual connection for each student. It helps to do it when the students walk in because it helps when the parents validate the information. It also gives me a chance to ask who their child is walking home with or who is picking them up at the classroom.

  33. I teach fourth grade. When parents and students come for “Meet the Teacher Night” I put out a transportation sheet for them to fill in how their child is getting home. On the first day of school, I ask the students who didn’t attend the evening before how they are getting home. If they don’t know, some of our paras and instructional specialists make phone calls to figure out how the kids are getting home. You’d be surprised how many fourth graders don’t know their own bus stop or address! Then, I have the kids fill out their bus or car passes for the first few days. It saves me making lots of passes and it helps the kids to remember their important transportation info.

  34. I am in a Pre-K class with a parent pickup and make it a point to always be there to see every child get
    picked up at the end of the day. I always try to say something positive about their day and being the first day I will make sure the child knows how much I want to see her/him the next day.

  35. At my school, we have Meet the Teacher the week before school starts. The parents are expected to bring a yellow form that was mailed home to them that includes their child’s transportation method for the school year. All student’s are expected to have a written note that gets turned in to the office if their transportation changes (even if it’s just for a specific day). The form has the student’s bus number on it, then as teachers, we are given a list with the bus numbers and a color that corresponds to the bus number. The students are only expected to know their bus color (designated by a colored sign in the bus window). That way if bus #50, let’s say, breaks down and they have to send bus #20, the students (mostly the primary kiddos) don’t have to worry about the fact that they can’t find their bus. And it’s easier for them to remember a color than a 3-digit bus number.

    As the students arrive to school on the first day, they are given a little square piece of construction paper that is the color of their bus. They hand it to their teacher to collect. I am not sure how individual teachers handle it from there, but I write the child’s name on the little square then they get that square back at the end of the day so they can remember their bus color. This is only done during the first, possibly second week of school. We have a lot of buses so some of the colors are magenta or lime green. Also, I believe the piece of paper is only for the primary grades since the older students can remember their color, hopefully! First through fifth grade students walk out to their buses on their own when their color is announced. During the first month of school, kindergarten teachers collect their classes out at the buses and walk them in. After the first month, kindergarteners come in on their own like all the other students. However, throughout the entire year, the kindergarten teachers walk their students out to their buses at the end of the day.

    It sounds like it a really complicated system, but it’s actually really easy to follow. Even for teachers, it’s easier to remember the bus color than a number. We also have silent dismissal. Each classroom has a TV and as the buses arrive, they put the color up on the screen and those students head out to their bus. It’s a lot better than having someone come on the PA system every few minutes and announce “Bus colors pink, orange, or blue are now dismissed.” This silent dismissal system allows me to read a story to the students while they are waiting for their bus or replay a content related video on the Promethean board that we have watched during the day. And because after the first month or two of school, first graders know their bus color and know when it’s going to appear on the TV screen, it allows me some time to gather things for the next day or help some students do end-of-the-day jobs without having to make sure each student remembers their bus color and leaves.

  36. For a smooth first day dismissal, I write everything down on a class list sheet. When a parent drops off their child, I make sure to ask how they are getting home. By lunchtime the busing lists are usually available. I add the buses to my class list and give each bus child a bus tag to go on their bookbag.

  37. I have the children sit on the carpet and I open the classroom door wide open. I invite the parents in and re-greet them again since I met them in the morning.
    It’s amazing to see how much their face lights up when they see their family member picking them up. It depresses me as well, because I don’t get to see my little boy who started kinder this year reaction of excitement when my hubby picks him up. He tells me the details, but what I wouldn’t give to surprise him one day, and pick him up from Kindergarten. okay, so know I am going to cry:( need to pick him up next week!!

  38. At open house i have parents fill out a form
    That says on the first day of school
    My child will go home by_______ every other day they will go home by _______. I follow up with a phone call the night before and then have my list ready 1st thing in the morning. That way at dismissal all i have to do is call them
    By group and check them
    Off as they leave

  39. I asked all of my parents at open house the night before. I also had them move a wheel on the SMART Board to the correct spot of how their child would be going home the next day. There were papers they could fill out that evening as well and I asked the secretary for a bus list the first day of school. For the first two days of school I made dismissal necklaces for each child to wear which stated how they would be going home in case they were unsure.

  40. We make sure that parents sign the kids out of the school if they are being picked up and then the kids are allowed to pick up their cell phones at the office and be on their way. A list is posted of those kids who will be picked up and who will ride the bus home.

  41. At orientation we explain to the parents about dismissal and if any plans change they need a note sent into school. For the first week of school we have labels for each Kindergarten Bus students saying where their stop is. We also have an aide ride the bus with the Kindergarten students for the first week. In the classroom I put up a dismissal poster as to wear everyone goes at the end of the day.

  42. To make dismissal go smoother, at the beginning of the day I check with my students to be sure that they know how they are getting home. That way if there is a problem, it isn’t being handled at such a crazy time of day.

    I like to have my students stack and pack early enough so we can play a get to know you game while dismissal begins. I have also had my students sit on the rug while we just chat about the day and what is to come.

  43. With 5th graders, the first day dismissal is pretty smooth. After all students are packed and ready to go, I quickly ask each student how are you getting home today? Then, I dismiss bussers (If you’re getting on the bus, you’re dismissed, please walk up this sidewalk to the gate, and be a safe bus rider). Next, I dismiss pick-ups (if you’re parent is picking you up, please walk across the field to the far gate, don’t cross the street without a parent, etc) and finally walkers and bikers with directions. It’s pretty smooth and everyone gets home safely.

  44. I teach preschool for Head Start. We are required during our home visits to have parents name adults including themselves who their child may be released to on a written form . Most of our children are bused to and from school, so ID may be required if teachers or bus monitor are not familiar with the adult who the child is being released to. Phone numbers are also required .

  45. I welcome parents and students to my classroom on the first day of school and before the parents leave they complete important information about their child.The last question I ask is how will Susie be going home today and place that symbol on their nametag for example a (car, bus,walker). We do not leave the building until all students have arrived home safely.

  46. This year I plan on taking a picture with the student and the parent/person that will be their main pick-up person. Before the end of the day I will print have keep on chart by the door…

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