First off, I need to apologize to the kindergarten students I had in 1997. They started each morning with a worksheet or coloring page. I’m sorry. It was my first year. I didn’t know any better.
You’ve probably heard “When we know better, we do better.”
Yes, we might need quiet to take attendance. We might need time to notice new shoes and missing teeth. We might need a moment to hear about an exciting evening or rough morning so someone will be able to better engage in their school day. The great news is there are entry tasks worth embracing that will let us do all of that. If you are looking for a smooth and meaningful start to the day, one of these might work for you. Or better yet, you might provide a menu of morning choices:
- Book Shopping—Students might spend the first ten minutes of the day evaluating their books and seeing what they might return, recommend to a classmate, or add to their “read this” pile.
- Reading—Students can spend the first minutes of the day reading. When students come in and choose to get lost in a good book, I know I am well on the way to creating lifelong readers.
- Finish Work/Homework—I am not a fan of homework, but sometimes I don’t have a choice in the schools I work in. Students who were busy with sports or other activities the night before or who have home lives that aren’t conducive to homework would benefit from a brief time to catch up before they start the day.
- Journaling/Set Intention—I recently heard Neil Pasricha (author of the blog 1000 Awesome Things) talk about intentional, joyful living. He has a two-minute morning ritual to cultivate a positive mindset that might be a beautiful way for our older students to start the day. Imagine if students began each morning thinking about and finishing these:
- I will let go of . . .
- I am grateful for . . .
- I will focus on . . .
The more specific they are, the better. For example: “I will let go of running late because I couldn’t find one of my shoes. I am grateful Mrs. Sabo smiled and was happy to see me instead of being mad. I will focus on building my stamina and ignoring distractions when I read to self.”
I can honestly say I don’t miss having to put a sticker or stamp on all those morning work assignments (yes, that’s how old I am). A menu of morning tasks, explicitly taught, modeled, and practiced, might give us all a joyful, purposeful, better beginning.
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