Monday, August 15, 2011
Finding JOY in ROUTINES
I think it is important to be able to find daily bits of joy. Some days are definitely easier than others, but many times it is the small things that bring us the most joy. While other times we must get through the moment in order to find the joy waiting on the other side.
Educators know first-hand about investing in the moment, in order to reap the benefits waiting on the other side. As teachers and administrators are working around the clock to get everything in place to meet their new group of students, they are ALL reminding themselves of the importance of setting up solid ROUTINES at the beginning of the year. Routines happen to be one aspect that can make or break a successful school year. Teachers attend workshops, read books, and scour the internet looking for the latest and greatest strategies for creating and successfully implementing routines. Entire schools are set up according to creating the best routines: how will children enter and exit the building, hall routines, cafeteria routines, playground routines, and the list goes on and on! We then begin the task of teaching and modeling in the hopes that children can successfully learn each routine.
As a teacher, I spent most of my time reflecting on my class and their ability to successfully follow school routines. I feel like I had a good understanding that the time spent going over procedures and routines would, ultimately, allow my room to run more smoothly, make my job easier, and help my students be more successful. Trust me, this was not always the easy! However, we would work together, and always get to where we needed to be. I felt like I had the whole routine thing down, as a teacher. Then, I became an administrator! I stationed myself to help with Kindergarten arrival, lunch, and dismissal for the first few weeks of school. WOW! Kindergarten teachers are angels! For many children, the first day they walk through the doors is the first day they have had to follow a routine. I watched teachers from all over the building embrace these little ones and love them from the moment they arrived.
Not only do Kinder students need help with routines at the beginning of a new school year, students of all ages have to go through a transition period. From my experience in a school setting, I feel like students who are used to routines and procedures at home have an easier time learning new routines at school. Walk into a cafeteria and I believe you can tell a lot about routines by watching students eat and interact with their peers.
If you are a parent already starting to feel the anxiety of a new school year, or possibly a first school year then I would suggest beginning your back-to-school routines this week. Talk to your kids about how things are going to look once they start back to school, and let them engage in the conversation. I think it is important to allow your children to give their input when setting up home routines, because it will increase their desire to buy-in to the procedures. This is one of the reasons that many teachers allow students to help create the "classroom procedures." You have to be comfortable with the decisions that you are allowing your child to contribute to. For instance, your child may not be old enough to pick out their clothes or make their own lunch, but they can tell you where they would like to put their backpack each day when they come home from school. This seems minor but having backpacks and lunch boxes put in a designated place will help save time getting out the door in the mornings. (If you want more strategies for saving time in the morning let me know.) :) Once you have discussed the routines and procedures it is time to begin practicing.
Routines in the home are similar to routines at school...you may want to give up in the beginning, but if you stick with it you will see the rewards!