Monday, January 9, 2017

Re-establishing Classroom Routines after the Holidays

I may have gone back to work last week, but last week was all about survival. This week, on the other hand, is about getting back into routine and evaluating those routines as I think about the rest of the year. That means making sure that I'm planning ahead, following the schedule, and setting up systems that are helpful - not ones that create more work for myself!

If you're thinking about some of those same goals, here are some of my favorite tools for re-establishing routines and organizing all of my plans:


Picture schedule cards are perfect for this time of year.  They help the entire class get back into the routine using visual cues.  If you've followed a similar schedule for the entire school year, then the children should be able to use the photos to figure out what is coming next.  This is also a great tool for those children who have a hard time transitioning between activities because you can warn them that they need to check the schedule and see what's going to happen next, giving them the opportunity to independently prepare for the transition. 


I can always tell when something isn't working, but that doesn't mean that it's easy to fix.  Whether it's my daily schedule, an activity that didn't go well, or a reoccurring behavior issue, taking time at the end of the day to reflect helps me to see patterns and begin to formulate a plan. This little one page Reflection Check Sheet freebie has been a life saver, not only for helping me remember to take the time each day, but also for helping me track my thoughts. 



I created my Circle Time Mega-Pack specifically for this time of the school year. By this time in the year I tend to have gotten a little relaxed with circle time, mainly because I've run out of fun ideas.  The materials in this pack help me plan for this particular period of the day, and they help the children recognize what is going to happen during circle time because we use similar materials and activities each day. 


This classroom recipe book has changed the way that I plan. All of the basic recipes that I need are right here, and I can make variations based on themes and seasons.  I love having this book in the classroom because I don't have to search for a play dough recipe on my phone, try to track down the piece of note paper that I scribbled the bubble recipe on last year, or scramble to remember all of the ingredients for slime the morning that I need them.  


My center challenge books were meant to help children learn how to use the materials in the different classroom centers.  They are also perfect for the middle of the school year, when the children are starting to get a little bored with the materials in the classroom.  These are a great way to encourage children to try new things with the same materials - or to remind them how the materials are supposed to be used!


I don't know about you, but I do a lot of my planning while I'm in the classroom doing a million other things.  This means that my notes often get written down on a post-it, in a notebook, or on the back of whatever piece of paper is closest.  Then, when I need to write it all down, I can't find all of the pieces in order to pull them together.  These free planing pages have changed all of that because they can be made into their own notebook, or put on your clipboard with your attendance so that you always have them. Thank goodness for notes that are easy to find!

I hope that some of these tools will be as helpful to you as they are to me!

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