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Fun Ways to Teach Kindergarten Classroom Routines

by Billie Wager, studioD

Kindergarten is often a child's first experience with traditional schooling, but even students with preschool experience may find the transition into kindergarten difficult as they face new academic challenges. Providing exciting and safe learning opportunities in kindergarten provides a basis for a continued love of learning, but routines must be in place in order for students to be successful. According to Scholastic Teachers, when routines and procedures are carefully taught, modeled and established in the classroom, children know what’s expected of them and how to do certain things on their own. By using creative methods of teaching classroom routines, you can ensure your students are ready and prepared for the lessons you will be teaching and that your classroom is as safe and friendly as possible for your young students.

First Things First, Last Things Last

Starting off the day with a routine in place will help the whole day run more smoothly. Teaching these beginning of the day routines should start on the first day of school. Introduce the students to the morning routine by showing them where to put their backpacks and jackets, how to get supplies, and where they should sit to start the day. Take pictures of students doing these activities and create a morning routine board using the class pictures for students to reference. Label the pictures with numbers to show the order each step should be completed. Then have students role-play by completing the tasks and trying to do them in order. Have students cheer for their classmates or help them if needed. At the end of the day, repeat the activity with packing up routines such as cleaning out mailboxes and stacking chairs.

Straight Lines Save Time

Schools often require students to stand in line, and forming a straight line quickly is often challenging for kindergartners. Simply saying "line up" can easily lead to chaos in the classroom, so instead use a signal. You can ring a bell, count 1-2-3, or blink the lights to let them know it is time to line up. Then show them how to walk -- not run -- to the line and find their spots. If you line students up in ABC order they will quickly learn their spots, making the routine go more smoothly. Placing small decals or tape on the spots where you want them to stand will also help them find their places. Practice this together several times in the first few days of school. Then use a stop watch and record how long it takes the students to form a straight line. Record the number on the board. Continue to do this every time you line up for the first few weeks of school. Make a game of it by encourage students to beat their time. When they beat their time, provide a small reward, such as a sticker.

Walk the Line

Once students have mastered forming a straight line, walking in the hallway is the next step. Kindergarten students have short attention spans and sometimes wander from the line. To keep them all in a straight focused line, read a book about ducks to the class, such as the classic "Make Way for Ducklings." Then have students pretend to be the little ducklings, clasping their hands behind their backs as ducktails and putting their lips together as the duck bill. Have them practice following you like the little ducklings follow the mother duck. This is a way for students to engage in play while learning a new procedure.

Never Stop

Teaching routines, especially to young children, is an ongoing process. They need frequent reminders and time to practice all year long. Allow time in your schedule to practice and review routines several times a year. Having students create posters to demonstrate expectations, working together to act out routines for the class, and creating a class list of procedures together are all ways to reinforce the classroom routines and procedures. Once your students understand what is expected, they will feel more comfortable and be able to focus on academics and becoming successful kindergartners.

About the Author

Billie Wager has been a public school teacher since 1998. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction, both from Ottawa University. Wager is licensed to teach kindergarten through ninth grade in Kansas.

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