Effective kindergarten routines and procedures can help your classroom run smoothly all year long. However, setting up these routines can feel a little bit overwhelming with everything else going on at the beginning of the year. In this post, I’m going to share some tips for setting up kindergarten routines in your classroom.
The Importance of Routines in Kindergarten
There are many reasons why it’s worth the effort to focus on routines and procedures in the kindergarten classroom.
- Save Time: Routines help your classroom run more efficiently! There’s a lot to learn in kindergarten every day, so every extra minute helps!
- Create Consistency: Children thrive in consistent classrooms. When students know what to expect throughout the day, they are less likely to be worried about the unknown. This frees up important brain space for learning!
- Reduce Negative Behavior: Students in routine-oriented classrooms are more likely to exhibit expected behaviors throughout the school day.
- Prepare for the Unexpected: The best routines are the ones that can run without you! When your students know the routine, your classroom will run more smoothly in your absence if you need to be out sick.
How to Set Up Kindergarten Routines
Every classroom runs differently, depending on the needs of the students and schedule. However, there are a few tips that any teacher can use to set up effective kindergarten routines and procedures.
1. Start Strong
While it’s important to have a strong daily routine, I have found that the morning routine should be at the top of the priority list. The way your students enter the classroom will set the tone for the entire day. Unfortunately, this is also the time of day when your attention is being pulled in every direction.
When you set up a morning routine that can run without you, it sets the tone for a productive day of learning. Students can take care of their morning tasks and then start a morning activity while they wait for your instructions. Be sure to check out my post about kindergarten morning routines for tips and ideas for this part of the school day.
2. Communicate Expectations from Day One
Your students are learning about your classroom expectations, procedures, and routines from the moment they enter your classroom on the first day of school. If you’re not explicitly teaching them these things from day one, they’ll be connecting the dots themselves. This is a recipe for a chaotic classroom!
As you take your students through your daily routine on the first day, go over the expectations with them. Whether it’s how to sit at the carpet or what to do if they finish early, communicating expectations will help your classroom routine run more smoothly for the rest of the year. Students can be more independent and confident as they participate in the daily routine.
3. Create Academic Routines
We often think of routines and procedures in terms of what happens between learning activities: Arriving at school, transitioning to carpet, turning in papers, getting ready to go home, and so on. Instead, learning activities can also be routine and consistent!
When academic activities are routine, it helps young students focus more on the content of what’s being taught. When every new skill is taught in a different format, students are spending more of their brain power on learning how to actually complete the task. For example, I like to teach the alphabet in a very routine way. The consistency allows the students to focus solely on the new letter instead of a whole new activity.
4. Use Visual Supports
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of using visual supports in kindergarten! As you set up your daily routine and procedures, use as many visual prompts as you can. This helps students navigate the routine more independently. When they have a visual chart of the steps for the morning routine, they don’t have to ask you what to do each step of the way.
Be sure to turn your daily routine into a classroom visual schedule! This can be reassuring for students who tend to worry about meal times or when they’ll have a chance for a break. A visual schedule can also help you stay on track as the teacher. For example, if you have a slight change to the daily routine, your schedule will remind you!
5. Revisit and Revise as Needed
The final step in setting up a kindergarten routine is to be ready to make adjustments. Kindergartners learn and grow so much over the course of the year; it’s not realistic to expect classroom routines to be the same from the first day of school to the last.
However, if your students seem to be having a hard time with part of your daily routine, revisit the expectations before changing the routine. A quick reminder of expectations is often enough to keep your routines on track. If you find that a small change is necessary be sure to share and model any new expectations with your students. (And remember to update your visuals to reflect the change!)
Classroom Visuals for Your Kindergarten Routines
If you’d like to use more visuals to support your kindergarten routines, I have you covered! I have put together a bundle with all of the printable visuals you might need throughout your daily routine. From visual direction cards to picture schedules, you’ll find a variety of tools that you can use to keep your classroom running smoothly. Your students will benefit from the consistency of your classroom, becoming more confident and independent as the year progresses. If you’d like to take a closer look at everything included in this bundle, you can find it in the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or on TPT.
Save These Kindergarten Routine Tips and Resources
Be sure to save these tips for kindergarten routines! Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly find these tips and resources whenever you need them!