If you are a preschool teacher, you know the importance of establishing routines in your classroom. Children appreciate knowing what to expect. They feel comfortable knowing that you are going to act and react in an expected way. How can you be sure your routines are helping to develop school-readiness? Let's take a look at some ideas.
One important concept is to be sure you are developing age-appropriate attention skills. When we read short texts and have children sit for no more than 10 minutes on a carpet, this helps develop good listening skills. Much longer than this and you are sure to see children rocking back and forth, crouching into other children's spaces, and even children talking and playing with one another. We may think that asking our children to sit for extended periods of time is getting them ready for school, but look around. If you are talking over children or constantly correcting them, they are learning that school means sitting and being corrected. They may believe their behavior is acceptable. Plan your routines with short, meaningful activities so children learn to sit, listen, and participate in a time frame that is consistent with their developmental level.
Help children learn to listen to your directions before beginning a project. For example, you may need to demonstrate an art activity. Do this before the children have any supplies in front of them. This means there is nothing to distract young minds. Asking children to repeat back instructions shows them the importance of listening carefully to the teacher. If you routinely do this, you are developing the school-readiness skill of listening carefully.
Encourage your children to congratulate one another on a job well done. Saying, "Let's all congratulate Ellie on the wonderful way she wrote her name," models that you value kindness. When you hear children say something nice about a classmate, stop and tell the class. Your positive feedback goes a long way in creating kind classmates.
Tattling an issue? Ask children to stop and think before telling you about a perceived problem. Ask if they or another child has been hurt on their body or in their heart. (We always want to stop emotional hurts, too.) Inviting children to think about who has been hurt before telling you, will often slow them down enough to consider their words. Sometimes the "tattler" needs other questions such as, "Is there a way you could have acted to make this stop? Asking questions may slowly change the behavior of constant tattling.
Stay tuned for more school-readiness ideas in coming weeks!
NAEYC - 2.B.01-07.
Head Start - II.A, B, C, & D.