Creating the Rhythm of Routines and Rituals

Posted by Stanley Communications on 9/8/2022 3:15:00 PM

When walking through our campus and classrooms in the middle of the year, one might notice students knowingly forming a circle on the rug after coming in from recess to be ready for mindfulness, one student organizing the art shelves at the end of the day and another watering the plants. British Primary teachers know that time invested at the start of the year creating routines and rituals is necessary to create a strong culture and foundation for learning the rest of the year. 

In your child’s first weeks of school, they have been immersed in lessons and activities to create, practice and reflect on classroom and schoolwide rituals and routines. In the beginning of the year we are learning to live and work together. Teachers and older students in the class share and model the routines and rituals, and then we fine tune and practice some more! Your child may have voted on the song that will remind them it is time to transition. They might have illustrated posters titled “Classroom Promises.” They will begin to remind each other that they can sit on the spinning disc on the playground rather than stand.

As Paula Denton and Roxann Kriete share in The First Six Weeks of School, “Students must know how to leave the room without interrupting the teacher or other students… They must know how loud ‘indoor voices’ can be...They must know something of their classmates’ strengths and fragilities. They must know how to ask each other for help. They must know how to get into groups quickly and efficiently with the materials they will need. They must know how to put the special drawing pencils back in the art cans so that they will be there for the next student who needs them.”

When learners know expectations, routines, and rituals, they feel safe to take risks. When children feel safe and know what to expect, they can focus on learning. Children rely on the simple, the predictable, the consistent parts of our days and weeks. These rituals and routines create a rhythm for coming together and moving apart throughout the day. They are comforting to us when things feel complicated; they ground us when we are ready to tackle more complex and creative challenges. There is something sacred in these repeated actions that mark the beginnings and ends of our days, the ways we move throughout our classroom, the words we speak and communicate with each other.
Ralph Peterson in Life in a Crowded Place: Making a Learning Community, explains, “Ritual has a centering effect…I do not search for the right words to say or worry about what to do next. My body knows what to do… Ritual allows teachers to use one of humankind’s most prized forms of expressing meaning and creating order.”
Most likely as your family has transitioned back to school, you too are finding grounding in the routines that help smooth the busyness of the earlier mornings and full afternoons and evenings. Your children bring their rituals of home with them to share with us at school, and perhaps you are beginning to hear about those that they are creating at school. Together, these simple, predictable, and repeated actions of our days create meaning in our lives and allow us to say as a Stanley community, “This is who we are, and this is the way we do things here.”