If your have time and insight, you’ll see there are hundreds of things to prepare. In my experience, this is the bare minimum that must get done before the first day of school:
1) Clean the desks and chairs and arrange them in clusters within view of the meeting area. You want to make a good first impression that kindergarten will be pleasant and organized.
2) Place a high-interest book on every desk for the kids to sit and read first thing. This will buy time to ensure everyone is settled, and to take attendance. Place an extra book basket on each cluster of desks.
3) Have a list of the class names to check off as kids arrive, and write name tags beforehand, if possible. Write kids' first and last names as well as your class on the tags.
4) Place name tags out on the desks before the children arrive. Place them boy and then girl; and if you know certain kids will need extra attention, place them up front, closer to the meeting area. Have extra name tags for new admits.
5) Prepare paper for children to write on, 30 pencils and 12 boxes of crayons in case they don’t bring their own. These will be used a bit later on the first day.
6) Prepare to talk about rules: classroom, bathroom, lunchroom and line-up. It helps to have visual posters about each of these.
7) Have a fun book to read to the class, and questions for discussion. Also, a few short songs to teach, and extra activities ready to go, in case you have extra time to fill.
These are the must-dos for your to-do list. For more essentials to prepare, as well as posters for teaching school rules, you might like this First Days of Kindergarten Teacher’s Kit. It includes all you need, before, during and after that crucial first day. You’ll find teacher scripts, lessons, posters, printables and tips—compiled by a long-term kindergarten teacher.
For even more thorough preparation, here’s the same Kindergarten Teacher’s Kit, bundled with School Rules and Bathroom Rules, with more charts, photos, points for discussion, a writing prompt about rules and bulletin board-ready rubric.
With preparation, you can have that calm and confident first day of kindergarten you've imagined!