How you can be intentional using developmentally appropriate morning routines

I know – calendar time is a tradition. It’s something you’ve probably always done. It’s something that you just never want to give up. I get that. But as you can see in my photos, there is no calendar on our morning greeting boards…

I recently participated in a discussion on Bam Radio with Rae Pica, Amanda Morgan, and Heather Shumaker titled,

Is it time to dump calendar time and letter of the week? 

Click the play button in the box above to listen in on our discussion for as you can see from the title, the discussion covers more that calendar time. I think you will find the conversation quite enlightening.

Then read my thoughts below!

Why I said goodbye to Calendar Time

I actually removed Calendar Time from my program shortly after I opened up my preschool. Calendar Time was something I had always done. It was a routine that was passed down to me from my previous teaching jobs. I never thought to question it as it seemed like a good idea to start our day talking about the month, day, and year.  Over the years I even learned to get creative with it like singing the “Days of the Week” song to the tune of “The Adams Family.” However, when I opened my own preschool, I began to really pay attention to what my students found meaningful, interesting, and valuable. I noticed that they just weren’t interested or connected to Calendar Time in the same way I was.

What Research Says

After doing some research, I realized that young children do not truly develop a sense of time in terms of dates, months, and years until well after their preschool years. Yes, they can memorize the months of the year and the days of the week. And yes, they can memorize counting up to 31. And yes, they can see that all these numbers and letters are organized in a neat package on our morning greeting board.

The Importance of Self-reflection in Practice

However, when I asked myself, “Is the precious time we spend everyday on these kinds of rote drills truly the most meaningful and valuable use of our time?” or “Does calendar time lead to meaningful conversations” or “Does calendar time assist in building a strong community” or “Are the children loving the process?” The answer became a clear “no.”

These questions were at the root of what I wanted my morning greeting to achieve and after thinking it all over, I realized (and it was kind of a difficult realization) that calendar time just wasn’t right for my students or for accomplishing my goals. I said goodbye to calendar time and began to build new routines that I felt better honored the goals I had for my community of young students.

Hello to Greeting Time

I still wanted some kind of predictable routine to our morning. I felt a routine helped me and my students get into a rhythm, build community, calm anxieties, and yet I wanted our morning routine to be as relaxed and meaningful as possible. So over the years, I have continued to play with our morning greeting (Circletime) routine and continue to this day to question what I do so that I stay true to my goals. Here are some things we do during our morning time together…

We talk about our names

Young children are naturally interested in their names and we talk about our names every day with the help of our sign-in tokens…

Miss Abby’s class has their sign-in tokens, too…

We Use a Question of the Day

We answer our question of the day and use the question to spark conversation about what we will be doing that day or to invite the children to tell us their stories or experiences…

We Incorporate Music and Movement

We sing songs that build language and that get the children moving and smiling. I want to start our day with something that brings us joy…

We Enhance Literacy

We read together books that the children can relate to and that we can build on throughout the classroom environment…

We Discuss the Weather

We talk about the weather in simple terms, look for patterns in the weather, share experiences, promote new language AND of course we spend time outside everyday learning about the weather too…

We Enjoy Games

We play simple games that provoke guessing, asking questions, thinking, and build community…

We Encourage Helpers

And we recognize our helper of the day…

Building a Morning Routine

Most of our morning greeting routine is simple and depending on the children’s interest, the entire amount of time we spend together each morning as a community varies. I love what Amanda Morgan says in the Bam Radio Interview when it comes to what is most important in the process of building a valuable morning greeting/circletime experience: “…an emphasis on meaningful language and having conversations with children because that is really important and one of the big building blocks of literacy that is more important than some of the rote activities that is common in many practices.” In regards to the length of morning greeting time Amanda states, “I don’t think we can put a number on it because it really does just need to be responsive to the children that we have in our group…”

Links to Grow On…

10 Tips for circletime in the preschool classroom

The Weather Helper in Preschool

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