The Importance of Routines

by Natalie Jackson
Ever want to know what goes on inside the classroom during the first few weeks of school? A lot of it is the development of student teacher relationships, getting to know schedules, and establishing routines.
All of these are important to ensure that children feel safe and comfortable in their new environment. Why is this important, and what does this really mean? We asked Karen Connelly, one of three Kindergarten teachers at JCDS, to give us a better understanding. 

Here is what she had to say: 

What is the difference between a routine and a schedule?
A schedule is something that is made up of things that you have to do. Routines are the habits we create to successfully maneuver through our days and foster connections.

Why is it so important to go over routines the first few weeks of school?
Purposefully setting up routines for our days and then reinforcing those routines during the first weeks of school will become the foundation for the rest of the school year. As adults, we should be planning routines that help children to feel safe, seen, and successful.

Why is it important not to dive straight into a lesson plan? 
It is important to make sure that children are ready to transition to a new lesson. Doing a quick brain break or different types of breathing can help quickly center everyone before the lesson begins. This can help children get the wiggles out and calm their bodies. 

What are some effective routines you do everyday? 
When students come into the classroom, we give them a choice on how they would like to be greeted. Students in my classroom have a routine for unpacking backpacks with visual reminders. Each student in our classroom has a job that changes over each week. At the end of the day, we share our “rosy moment,” or our favorite part of the day. 

What is the smallest routine your class does that is still extremely effective? 
Every morning we do a wish well routine. When students are absent, we put the student’s picture in their hearts. We then close our eyes and put our palms over our hearts to wish them well with a song. When a student returns from being absent, we are sure to welcome them back during the wish well routine as well.
What is the significance of a Morning Meeting? 
Morning Meeting is one of the (if not the) most important times of the day. It takes place first thing in the morning so this sets the tone for the entire day. It is a time for connection between students and between teachers and students. In The Morning Meeting Book by Roxanne Kriete and Carol Davis, the authors note how easy it is for adults to get overwhelmed by our busy mornings. However, the transition between home and the classroom is a big one, and it’s important for children to feel seen during this time. During Morning Meeting, students greet each other, take opportunities to share stories/experiences, and decompress with songs and/or games.