Routines in kindergarten: those magical, mystical creatures that can either be your best friend or your worst nightmare in the world of teaching. If you’ve been following our journey, you know that we’ve been exploring the incredible impact of routines in your kindergarten classroom. In our last discussion, we delved into the world of Quiet and Independent Play (QIP), and today, we’re taking things up a notch by uncovering more essential routines that can truly transform your classroom dynamics.
The Love-Hate Relationship with Routines
Let’s be honest, routines are a bit like a rollercoaster. They have the potential to make your life as a kindergarten teacher a breeze, but finding the ones that truly fit can feel like a quest for a mythical unicorn. Trust me; I’ve been down that road and experienced my fair share of routine flops. It’s like trying to reinvent the wheel when all you needed was a smoother ride.
Total Flops: Lessons from the Trenches
Picture this: laminated creations that were supposed to revolutionize my classroom but ended up in the recycling bin after mere days. Take, for instance, the infamous classroom jobs clip chart. I thought it would instill responsibility and order, but it turned into a micromanagement nightmare. And oh, the sign-in system that promised to track attendance seamlessly but felt more like herding cats.
These experiences taught me a vital lesson: routines that create more work for you won’t stand the test of time. They should flow as effortlessly as a Sunday morning stroll in the park; otherwise, they’re doomed to fade into oblivion or cause unnecessary stress.
Routines That Actually Work
Now, let’s pivot to the routines that are true game-changers – the ones that can metamorphose your kindergarten experience through the power of routines.
Here’s a glimpse of some of my go-to routines:
Outdoor Time: Kickstart and wind down the day with 30-60 minutes of outdoor play, where I also conduct small group assessments.
Seamless Transitions: Effortlessly transition from outdoor play into morning meetings and smoothly flow into daily workshops.
Active Breaks: Incorporate movement after direct instruction, allowing for playtime with an open snack option. This time is also ideal for organization, student meetings, team collaboration, and small groups during play.
Carpet Reading Break: After a meal, create a cozy carpet space with books for early finishers. It’s a productive reading moment while others complete their meals.
Calm Closure: As the day winds down, introduce 20 minutes of quiet, independent play with activities like playdough, sensory play, coloring, books, and quiet building materials. Dim the lights, play calming music, and set a serene atmosphere.
Mindful Dismissal: Transition from quiet play to mindfulness to wrap up the day on a tranquil note. Those needing extra time to get ready can exit early with a team member, while you guide the mindfulness session.
Figuring Out Your Perfect Routines
Now, it’s your turn to embark on the journey of establishing routines that will truly transform your kindergarten experience. Here are some golden nuggets to guide you along the way:
- Less Is More: Avoid complexity. Simplicity is your best friend.
- Intuition Is Key: If it makes sense to you and your students, it’s a winner.
- Overlap for Success: Create common steps in multiple routines to foster familiarity.
- Be Explicit: Detail every step – from where to go to what to do.
- Show, Don’t Just Tell: Model routines and celebrate their successes.
- Refresh and Practice: Routines might need a tune-up, and that’s perfectly okay.
- Expect Excellence: Set high expectations for your students, and they’ll rise to the occasion.
Remember, routines aren’t about being rigid; they’re about providing structure that leads to confidence and success. It might take some time to fine-tune them, but when you discover routines that fit like a glove, you’ll feel that sweet sigh of relief.
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