By Sandra Braceful-Quarles
Your alarm clock goes off and you hit the snooze button. At least that’s what you meant to do. 30 minutes later, you’re off to a late start. There’s no time to pick up coffee or eat breakfast. You at least want to make it to work on time. There you can attempt to readjust and resume the remaining part of your schedule.
At the end of the day, you can reboot and get back to your regular routine, which you welcome because it helps you navigate and creates a sense of security that you need to survive the day.
Now imagine students in your class who may or may not have a regular routine to follow outside of school. The importance and impact of a regular routine in the classroom are now magnified exponentially since your students are likely too young to have the skills to make the adjustments that you did on their own.
The National Education Association (NEA) knows that well-taught routines provide smooth, uninterrupted class operation, which saves large amounts of time and puts the focus back on learning. If you think about it, you’re bestowing much more than a procedure for your students to follow. You’re teaching them navigation skills, developing a sense of security and trust, and extending the routines they have at home.
From the moment they walk in the classroom, students want to know what to expect and how they can succeed. The start of the year is a new beginning for them and they want and need their teacher(s) to guide them. Your procedures and routines confirm how each day will begin and end.
Have you heard a student say, “We don’t have Writing before Reading,” if you decide to change the schedule? Or maybe, “They’re not following the rules,” because they know how to navigate the procedures, what to expect, and when to expect it? Always reteach or reinforce routines to keep students on the right course throughout the year.
Security and Trust
Students like to know what to expect. It gives them a sense of confidence and assurance that everything is right with the school world. Routines and procedures are a catalyst to building security and trust.
When you teach a topic, you ask them to follow a certain procedure for success. It builds their trust in you. Or perhaps they aren’t performing well and you provide steps or a procedure to correct the action. You are creating a secure environment for learning and familiarity that students need.
Extension of Routines
Remember to include parents in the equation. With students spending about 92 percent of their time with or under parent supervision, having a great home routine will only help students succeed even more at school. It adds important navigation skills and a security blanket that’s immeasurable to a student’s success in the classroom.
The YOU Program provides important tools to create the foundation of routines from birth through high school that should be shared with parents.
Students aren’t that different from adults. Just as routines give us a feeling of comfort and assurance to navigate our days, students need us to provide them with tools for successful learning. In this win-win scenario they obtain important skills for learning while we see amazing growth from our students because we have more time for teaching and learning.
Sandra Braceful-Quarles is an educator, community liaison, and tutor working in the south suburbs of Chicago. As an active member of her worship community, she is passionate about giving back and volunteering to help others. She and her husband have three children and two grandchildren.