April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: Consistent Routines

Consistent Routines

An essential way to keep a well-managed classroom is to set consistent routines and schedules. Routines are structured and predictable sequences of activities throughout the school day that help establish a sense of order and consistency. They typically involve various daily routines, such as morning greetings, group times, snacks and lunchtime, playtime, rest time, and outdoor play. Classroom routines can involve the entire class or even just small groups or individual children.

Why are classroom routines important? Consistent routines and schedules help young children learn the flow of the day and what to expect from one day to the next. By establishing routines and following schedules teachers help children feel confident and comfortable knowing what is happening in the classroom. This structure can create a sense of safety and ease within their learning environment. Providing this sense of safety and comfort is essential in an ECE setting, where children are learning about the world and who they can trust.

Classroom routines also help foster social and emotional development, helping children build essential skills such as cooperation and emotional regulation. The comfort that routines provide children is conducive to learning skills across the developmental continuum as calm and secure children are better able to take in new information.

Within each element of the daily routine, there are even smaller routines. Let’s take a look at an example  of a few strategies for establishing consistent routines throughout the daily schedule:

  • Morning routines are essential. This is one of the most active and busiest parts of the day. Routines to start the day include greeting children and families, washing hands, and storing belongings in appropriate places. These elements set the stage for the rest of the morning. Greetings should be warm and welcoming, and their belongings should be kept in bins or cubbies that are personalized and special to them.
  • Class meetings and large group gatherings should be part of the routine in most classrooms. The activities within these meeting times should also remain somewhat consistent, perhaps including creative attendance taking, sharing of news from home, announcements, and reading stories. These large group times should be reserved for topics that apply to the large group.  We know that children develop cognitive skills at different rates and that children have different interests, meaning that most traditional circle time elements may be better suited to small group activities.
  • Routines surrounding meals and snacks encompass many moving parts. Be sure that the steps children need to take are realistic based on children’s developmental abilities.  Break these large elements down into smaller chunks. Create a routine for handwashing, setting the table, passing food around the table (if you use family-style dining), and clearing the table.  Create expectations for each step, and turn those steps into a song or poem to help children remember what they need to do along the way.  Singing a song or reminding children of their responsibilities using a catchphrase can be less punitive than constant prompts and reminders.
  • Clean-up time can be overwhelming for young children, but it is one of the most important routines that can be established in a classroom. Cleaning up builds a sense of responsibility for the classroom community and teamwork as children work together to accomplish the task. Again, set the expectations for what “cleaned-up” looks like.  Take pictures of materials and adhere them to the shelves and storage bins to make it easier for children to clean up independently.  Turn clean-up into a game, where each child is assigned a different shaped block to clean up, which reinforces shape identification skills.
  • Outdoor time is full of fun and energetic explorations. Weather conditions play a big role in whether children are able to explore outdoors. Teachers should have contingency plans in place to allow children to expend energy indoors on days of inclement weather.
  • Teachers can keep children on track by posting easy-to-follow schedules in the classroom. Refer to the schedule throughout the day, especially at the beginning of the school year, when changes are made to the routine, and when new children join the group.
  • Whenever possible, inform children about changes to the routine in advance. Remind them several times that a change to the schedule will happen on Friday because a visitor is coming to perform for them. Talk about the expectations for that activity well in advance, and share the information with families so they can have similar conversations at home.

Classroom routines save time, comfort children, and help the day run smoother. If the routines you have in place are not working, change them or create new ones. The goal is to provide the best environment possible.

 

For the main article What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?, CLICK HERE

For the article Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Classroom Management Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Effective Transitions, CLICK HERE