AUGUST 28th, 2023
A NEW SCHOOL YEAR- ESTABLISHING ROUTINES
At the beginning of a new school year, teachers prepare class schedules and classroom routines, establish rules to help students acclimate to new environments, and plan a character education curriculum. In a Montessori classroom, lesson presentations are taught, such as carrying a tray or a basket, walking around a rug, unrolling and rolling a rug, and washing hands. These types of lesson presentations underscore the importance of order in a space and are the starting point of an excellent foundation to build on throughout the school year.
In our classrooms at Unity School, independence is an organic, ongoing process. From our Toddlers to Orientation and Preschool, all students learn to manipulate a toy, pour water, tie their shoes, and identify and express their emotions. Maria Montessori once said, “Independence is not a static condition; it is a continuous conquest, and in order to reach not only freedom, but also strength, and the perfecting of one’s powers, it is necessary to follow this path of unremitting toil.”
For many families, summer schedules are often looser than those during the school year; adhering to regular bedtimes, wake-up times, meal times, and morning routines can be challenging. Now, we are all getting back into our “school routines”. A few ways to help your child establish and stick to a routine include waking up early enough so that the day feels smooth and not rushed, deciding if your child will dress before or after breakfast and laying out their clothes the night before, and providing your child with a healthy breakfast.
Once at school, parent/child separation can be difficult for some, yet there are many things we can all do to help set a child up for success. Try incorporating some of these ideas into your routine:
- Get to school on time. It is challenging to come to school late when all the other children are already there and the morning work has begun.
- Allow your child to walk into the building independently. If they are bringing things to school such as extra clothes, paperwork, a snack or lunch, etc., allow the child to carry some of that too. This creates a climate of ownership for your child.
- Do the “leaving at the door” part of the routine matter-of-factly. Create a parting ritual that will last all year! For instance, give your child one hug, kiss, and a positive comment such as “Have a great day!” As you send your child through the door, many parents place an extra kiss in the child’s palm in case they need it later in the day. This idea comes from the story The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
- Create a climate of trust. Do not allow your child to become distracted and then sneak off. Be honest and upfront about what will happen and your part in it. Leave the building immediately and refrain from hanging around to see how they are doing. When a child senses that you are uncertain, they learn that school is a place to fear rather than embrace.
- Affirm their emotions. If your child cries, remind them that they are just getting used to school and it is alright to feel sad. Let them know that they will have fun with their teacher and new friends.
Learning to separate, establishing routines, and “getting into the school groove” is a process that may take time. Maintain your positive outlook, and your child’s attitude will reflect yours. Most importantly, don’t forget that a strong partnership between home and school is key. Always know that you can reach out to your child’s teacher to share your experiences or ask for help.
Nilda Torres, Preschool Director
BBA, AMS Infant & Toddler, MACTE Montessori Trainer & Preschool Director