How to Start Their School Days Peacefully

The following post is from Jennifer Burke, a lifelong educator:

peaceful start
source: GoodNCrazy

Have you ever wondered how a teacher keeps 25 children moving calmly through the day?  Chances are she’s trained her students to use procedures.  Instead of treating actions as behaviors, which have positive or negative consequences, a good teacher organizes the classroom so that students know the routines that need to be followed throughout the day.  Instead of jumping into new subject material, these educators start the year by having students practice the procedures that will carry them successfully through the year. 

Transfer It to Home

You can use this same philosophy to make your mornings more peaceful.

Instead of cajoling or threatening your kids as you try to get them out the door, incorporate procedures into your mornings.

1.  Make a list of what each person has to get done from the time they get up until they’re ready to leave.

2.  Break each activity down into logical steps. 

3.  Rehearse these steps with your kids.  Don’t wait until a real school day to do so.  You want to practice when there’s time to instruct, fine tune, and make sure everyone gets it right.  If you have more than one child, have them practice the same steps at the same time.  It will encourage them to hold each other accountable.

4.  When you begin to implement your procedures in “real time,” affirm your kids as they walk through them.  If they miss something along the way, don’t treat it as rebellion, simply insist that they go back and do the procedure correctly.  When they get it right, congratulate them!

Putting It In Place

You can develop procedures for things like how to make your bed, how to leave the bathroom when you’re finished getting ready (even what to do while you’re in there!), how to get your breakfast ready, and collecting all of your belongings before you head out the door.

Here’s an example of a procedure for a fourth grader:

  • Put on your coat.
  • Put on your backpack.
  • Pick up your lunch from the counter.
  • Pick up your flute from the closet.
  • Give mom a kiss before walking to the bus stop.

If this student practices until these steps become a routine, you’ll never get a frantic phone call about a forgotten lunch or instrument.

Even if your child is already back in school, it’s not too late to put procedures into your morning routine.  Simply follow the steps above and practice over a weekend.

As Time Goes By

It’s normal for a child to slide back into old habits.  They ignore some of the procedures, or invent shortcuts.  A classroom teacher deals with this natural slippage by going back to the practice phase.  She has the students run through the procedures until she sees that everyone is back on track.  It may seem time-consuming, but reviewing the procedures periodically actually saves everyone time in the long run.

Do you think procedures would help you start your days more peacefully?

Jennifer is passionate about children and education. She homeschooled her two sons for five years, established and directed a Christian school in Maryland for 20 years, and currently teaches in a public school in a Chicago suburb. She loves investing in relationships and delights in every moment that she spends with her family.