To Learn, Start with a Routine


Submitted a year ago
Created by
Brad Choyt
If you want to stretch intellectually and emotionally, establish an anchor point first. Some adults may begin their day by making their bed neatly or preparing a cup of coffee in a way they particularly relish. For children, routines that provide comfort are just as important. At home, it may be putting on clothes in a certain order or eating breakfast from a particular bowl.
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Early in the school year, teachers also develop classroom routines to establish norms and foster a sense of trust through knowing what comes next. In younger classrooms, teachers may review a regular list of helpers for the day. Or during a morning meeting, students may take turns leading discussions that review the daily schedule or count the number of days in the school year. In older grades, students may organize the content in their lockers or read reflective passages in their homeroom. 

Regardless of the activity, it's the practicing of the routine that counts. Once established, our brains are more at ease and receptive to challenges. The fright and flight section of the brain, the amygdala, can comfortably take a back seat to the cerebrum and other parts of the brain that are malleable and ready to develop new pathways for learning.  

Of course, these routines should be balanced with opportunities to explore new materials and try new activities so students don't tune out when it’s time to learn. Parents and teachers need to determine the optimal balance between the familiar and the novel for the brain to be engaged but not bored. In other words, a balance is needed to be primed for learning. But it all starts by establishing the proper groundwork from the familiarity that comes from routines.   

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