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The Value of Routine

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

Do you have any type of daily routine you like to follow? For some, it may be a morning routine that consists of a quiet cup of freshly brewed coffee, a fresh newspaper, and a comfy seat with a super soft blanket. Others may prefer a nightly routine that settles their thoughts, relaxes their bodies, and prepares them for a good night’s sleep. People generally do better with routine – we know what’s coming and we know what to expect. Daily routines may even set us up for success in other parts of our day. They can help save our emotional energy for things to come that may be a bit more stressful and chaotic than our warm cups of coffee.

Think about how you feel when things don’t go as planned. It can be quite frustrating! I recently got to go on an amazing vacation to Panama City Beach with my sweet family. I was so excited to leave work on Friday and tackle part of the drive down to sunny Florida. Six hours – we’d travel just six hours the first night and finish the trip the next day. Only it wasn’t just six hours. It was more like nine. Traffic was the worst I’ve ever seen it – and most people were driving with a complete lack of common sense. The next day wasn’t any better, either. I had planned on arriving at the beach at a certain time but was several hours late. It was so frustrating!

Our Kids Can Benefit, Too

If we get frustrated with a change in routine, we can expect our kids to do the same. They can’t always express their frustrations in appropriate ways, so sometimes this frustration is expressed through poor behavior like tantrums, crying, and ugly attitudes. I don't know about you, but tantrums and ugliness don't sit well with me. But proper planning on my part may help avoid some of that drama. I start early in the day, creating a morning routine that suits my learners as well as me.

The start of a school day is not always easy for kids. This is especially true for kids who struggle to sit for long periods of time or for kids who may not enjoy schoolwork. One way to help kids with this is to start with a bell ringer, early bird activity, or a short period of morning work. Morning work helps our kids settle into a routine and get ready for a successful day. With a morning routine, kids know what to expect because it is the same procedure each day. It’s also a great chance for us to give our kids the opportunity for daily review of important material.

Where do I start?

I spend several weeks at the beginning of the school year practicing the bell work routine with my students. I model it, then I model it again, and again. The more we practice “perfectly”, the more apt my students are to develop that “muscle memory” and master the work patterns I want them to follow.

"Daily routines may even set us up for success in other parts of our day."

Once my kids seem to have a decent grasp of the tasks I want them to complete, we practice them together. I let them lead more and do more of the work independently as I watch closely to make sure they are completing it the way I’d like it done.

When we are ready to transition from practicing it together to them completing the routine independently, I sit with them and reinforce the specific things I see them doing that I have been stressing throughout our times of practice. For example, I might say something like…

  • “Your handwriting is very good. I appreciate you taking your time to write neatly.”

  • “You did a great job copying the spelling words for the day.”

  • “I love the way you colored in the lines. It looks so nice.”

If I happen to see incorrect work, or they aren’t following the procedures we’ve practiced, I stop on the spot and patiently review the parts of the procedure they did not follow correctly. Eventually, we get to the point where they move through the routine flawlessly and independently – it’s totally worth the investment of time I spent in the beginning teaching the procedures.

Ready for Success?

This morning routine can look any way that suits your family. Morning work can cover math, language arts, handwriting, or any other subject. The key is that the daily procedure does not change so your child can eventually, after learning the routine, work independently. Bell work also gives you, the teacher, some time to collect your thoughts and supplies to get ready for a successful school day. Morning work can provide a great opportunity to check in with individual students if you are teaching more than one, just to make sure you are prepared to meet their individual needs that particular day.

A morning routine can prove to be an effective way to start your school day. One important benefit of the morning routine is that it gets everyone settled in and ready for a successful day. It also gives students a chance to review important material and practice important skills. When children know the routine and know what to expect, it also helps mentally prepare them (and in turn, us) for a successful day.

What does your morning routine look like?

Posted by Heather Hiple

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