The start of the school year is a perfect time to co-create routines with your students! Routines help everyone get back into the swing of a structured school day. Investing thought, time, and energy into establishing routines creates a less stressful classroom for educators and students.
When you involve students in developing, practicing, and improving classroom routines, it helps ensure they feel a sense of belonging and contribution to their class community. Classroom routines and procedures also help increase engagement and minimize opportunities for misbehavior. This article from Head Start explains how routines help children feel more confident and secure.
Here are some tips for incorporating routines into your classroom community.
While a class schedule maps out what students will do that day, routines and procedures are the daily structure for how each agenda item gets completed. For example, students may understand that recess comes after reading time, but we need to teach them how to put away their books in the appropriate place and line up to go to recess.
This Classroom Routines Planning Sheet from the Sound Discipline Pacing Guide may help you identify and practice routines around transition & safety, community building, and expanding resiliency windows.
It can be overwhelming to learn every classroom routine in one day, so chunk out your daily agenda with time allotted to teach and practice routines at the beginning of the school year. Even though it takes extra time at the beginning of the year, teaching routines early on will pay off in the long run.
Use Rhythm to Regulate
Rhythm is an effective tool for students that have experienced trauma, and all students benefit from learning new ways to self-regulate. Try taking a few moments to use rhythm to regulate at the beginning of the school day to help set your classroom up for a smooth day of learning. This could look like co-creating a rhythmic classroom chant or doing a quick movement game. This Edutopia article offers some ideas for younger students.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Keep offering opportunities to practice classroom routines throughout the school year, especially when new students arrive, or the schedule changes. Pause and notice how the routine is working for the classroom community. When students are following the routine correctly, stop and help them to recognize what it looks like and sounds like when things are working well for the class!
If it’s not working, decide together if the routine needs to be modified or if the class just needs more practice.
As educators, it can be tempting to forego practicing classroom routines to save time. We teach lots of content and are short on time. However, incorporating and practicing routines early on allows for a more effective, efficient, and connected school year – and happier, less stressed-out kids and educators!