Back to School and the Importance of Routines

Routines in the classroom help students feel have a sense of order and stability: they invite a feeling of safety and security. Although setting up routines takes time and energy, once routines are established, you can simply refer to the routine it invites a sense of collaboration from students. “What is next on our schedule?” or, “What was our agreement about lining up?”

Some guidelines for setting up routines from Positive Discipline in the Classroom by Jane Nelsen, EdD are:

  • Focus on one routine at a time.
  • Involve students in developing the routine. Students are more likely to follow the routine if they’ve been involved in setting  it up, and have agreed to it.teacher reading to kids
  • It’s helpful to use visuals – charts or lists – that can be posted in the classroom, for reference.
  • Practice routines, especially at the beginning of the year, and periodically throughout the year. Sometimes we assume students know things that they may not.
  • Follow through with kindness and firmness.

Here are some tips to get you started in building your classroom routines:

  • Which routines? Classrooms are complicated. There are a lot of moving parts. We often expect kids to know what to do at school, and get frustrated when things don’t go smoothly. With a little bit of thought and planning on your part you can help your students be more successful in knowing what to do. Over time you may want routines for things like: attendance, signal for getting attention, distributing materials, cleaning up,morning entry, task, turning in work, coming in the classroom from recess or break, fire drills, drinks and bathroom, transitions in the classroom, putting materials away, noise level during work time, lining up, leaving the classroom, positive time out, and end of the day.
  • Teach: Once you have decided on the routines you want to implement, it is important to teach the expectations for each routine to your students. It is helpful to give students a chance to see the routine in action through role play. Be as clear and consistent in your expectations as possible.
  • Practice: Once your students have been taught the routine, they’ll need some practice! The more kids practice the more likely they will be able to follow the routine independently.
  • Pause and Reflect: It is important to pause and notice how the routine is working. When students are following the routine correctly stop and allow them to recognize what it looks like and sounds like if the routine is working. If the routine decide if the routine needs to be modified or if the class just needs more practice.

More on classroom routines. In addition, Scholastic has a whole collection of ideas about classroom routines from teachers.