Having a consistent routine can help make the day run smoothly. It gives children a sense of security to know what is coming next and what is expected of them. As a teacher and as a parent, I like to have an intro activity. When I taught middle school, my students would walk in, grab their journals, and look at the board for their writing prompt. The writing prompts were varied to reduce boredom, but the system was predictable. I didn't have to explain what we were doing. We didn't lose any class time, and I had five minutes to take roll and get organized. Every morning, as I change my young ones' diapers, I ask them how they slept and spell their names in a sing-song voice. Then we go straight to the kitchen for breakfast. It's a comforting ritual that helps the day start on a happy note.
For preschool, I have an intro activity table. The children will know that when school starts, they are to sit down and do whatever activity is on the table. It will be different every day (play-dough, puzzles, dress up, etc.) and won't need an explanation. That way I can make sure everything is set up and ready to go for the day. This is a final check, of course. I like to set up the night before, but there are always last minutes loose ends that need set out or prepared. Transitions can be such a time waster. It's really helpful to start the school day with a smooth beginning. Even if you just take a breath or a sip of coffee, you will start the day relaxed instead of rushed.
After the intro activity, we will have circle time. My circle-time board reminds us of this year's main idea: God is good! It also reinforces important skills that I am trying to teach them: days of the week, weather, feelings, time, and prayer. I don't remember where I read this idea, but someone suggested letting the students move bookmarks labeled yesterday, today, and tomorrow through pockets labeled with the days of the week. I thought this was a great hands-on idea for teaching the progression of the days.
I love to make preschool lessons as visual and active as possible, so the kids will also be able to choose the card with the picture of today's weather, a card that shows how he or she is feeling, and prayer cards. They touch, and see, and hear, and move each element. I was on the fence about sharing our emotions--I am part Norwegian, after all--but decided it would be helpful for toddlers to learn to identify their emotions. When conflicts arise, they need to be able to recognize and communicate that they are angry because someone took their toy or sad because their feelings were hurt.
I might try to add pictures or color to the prayer cards, but for right now, it reminds me to pray an attribute of God, thank Him for His provision, and make a request.
I would love to hear how you begin your day, how you develop fun rituals or routines, and how you help smooth transitions!