How the morning gets started can set the tone for the entire day. The same holds true in the classroom. A smooth start to the morning can make all the difference to your day. Here’s a glimpse at my morning routine for my K-2 self contained classroom.
Once students arrive to my room, they are greeted with a visual that shows them just what to do. We have students unpack their backpacks, greet staff and peers in the room, then check their schedules. I have a basket folders go in and home/school communication books.
There are million things to keep track of from attendance to lunch count. In order to get everything done, we all split up tasks. One staff member is in charge of attendance, one is in charge of lunch count, one is in charge of checking folders and homework, one is in charge of checking backpacks and home/school communication books. This helps make sure we don’t miss anything and get started on time.
The first task on the visual schedule shows ‘morning work’. I used The Autism Helper’s Leveled Daily Work for morning work. I love it because the set up is super simple and easy. All of my learners are on one level this year, which makes it even easier. In previous years, when I’ve had learners who aren’t yet ready for paper/pencil type work, I use simple Easy Matching Weekly Workbooks, or even put-in tasks at the table.
The second task of our day is Morning Meeting. This is my favorite time of the day. Everyone, even staff, sits together at the carpet. We start by singing a welcome song, do an emotional check in, ask a question of the day, and celebrate everyone being at school. Students use whatever means of communication they have and we model verbal, sign language and AAC as we go.
Next, we move to some calendar and academic skills. We cover the days of the week, months of the year, what day it is, what the weather is, and work on patterns. Next we work on simple phonics skills and even sight word recall – wherever my learners are, that’s where I focus. If I have a wide range, I’ll consider splitting this calendar/academic section into groups so I can differentiate a little more.
Before we go, we model and practice ways to calm our bodies when we are upset. We take turns working on skills like deep belly breathing and counting backwards. Everyone – including support staff – joins in. Not only does this help staff know what to do when a child is escalated, it also helps us reset before transitioning to a new task. From here, students move to individualized schedules to meet their unique educational needs.
Keep it Simple
Morning routines don’t have to be complicate or elaborate. In fact, keeping it simple helps everyone. Start small and add as you go! With a little bit of work, some visuals and some time, you’ll have a morning routine to set your day off right!