TheMommaFiles



Good morning!

One of the first lessons learned as an elementary school teacher was that children love routines. In fact, they thrive on them. Routine and predictability promote learning – even if at first this begins as basic memorization. The repetitive nature of doing tasks every day at the same time, gives children confidence and control over their learning environment. In a world where children are told when to get up, what to eat, what to wear and where to be, this sense of ownership is precious to young ones. In school, I used this love of routine all day, every day. I liked that my students would walk in to our classroom each morning and know where to look for the daily schedule, where the homework was piled and where they could place their belongings. It made them feel safe and it gave them a sense of trust, which is sometimes hard to earn from children, especially when they are not your own!

Every morning, my class would gather on the rug and have a morning meeting. We discussed the schedule for the day and reviewed the monthly calendar, complete with velcro numbers to add as we went along.  Other things we reviewed included the days of the week and counting the number of days we were in school. With each passing day, we would also determine its place value by showing how many ones, tens and hundreds were in that particular number. The last and final aspect of this morning exercise was a weather chart with a related weather bear to decorate. Each morning, my helpers added the correct date, figured out the days of the week (Yesterday was,  Today is, Tomorrow will be), corrected the number of days we were in school and added necessary ones, tens and/or hundreds. They also determined the weather and dressed our weather bear appropriately. It was easily one of the most fun parts of our day. My students, even those who were not reading yet, knew every subject for the day and what special class we would attend. They couldn’t necessarily read the words but they memorized each sign and, after a while, they discovered that each card said something specific. This memorization eventually turned into real recognition, as they began to notice the word “reading” or “gym” in other places other than on the schedule. Parents – if your child memorizes something they see and repeats the word to you, do not discount this as simply repeating. It is actually a stepping stone of the reading process.  For example, your child may recognize the word “stop” from a stop sign. Eventually, they will see this word other places and be able to read it.

The reason why I enjoyed morning meeting so much was because it covered so many subject areas; reading, writing, math, science and social studies.  We read the schedule of events every morning and wrote the number of days of school (yes, writing numbers is part of writing). In addition, number recognition and ordering of numbers is math-related, especially place value. When determining the weather, we were exploring science and social studies was touched on when there is a holiday.

Here is where you come in: I believe every parent can do a portion of my morning meeting with their children.  Starting with a small piece is a good way not to get overwhelmed. Since numbers and counting are something children are aware of as young as 2, if not younger, it’s an easy way to begin. Create a reusable  monthly calendar on a piece of oaktag. If you create  a blank grid, you can use separate cutouts of the dates and velcro each one on separately. Every month begins on a different day so at the end of a month, you can simply remove the velcroed numbers and start fresh.

This routine may take a while so please be patient. At first, children will be simply be happy to velcro a number onto the paper.  After a while, they will realize that the numbers come in order and it is their job to place the next one on each day. This will become part of their routine. Giving them the opportunity to search for the next number each day and add it to the calendar allows for an incredible amount of learning. Identifying numbers, number order and using fine motor skills by placing the date on the velcro are great lessons. Labeling the calendar is even better, so that they begin to understand that this grid has a name. The same goes for the months of the year.  Even if you point to the month every day and repeat the name of it, children will begin to remember this. Before you know it, they may point to the calendar and say “September”  or “calendar” – it is amazing what children retain, memorize and internalize.

You can begin with any part of morning meeting – a daily schedule, a weather bear (especially fun since they get to dress it) or the days of the week. It is up to you, you know your child better than anyone and what they will respond to best. The main objective is to make them aware of parts of our world that exist for everyone – the months of the year, the days of the week, the weather outside.

Activities that begin in school do not have to end in school. Bring a little bit of your child’s classroom or future classroom to your home. If you would like more specifics on this topic, please feel free to ask. I would be happy to explain in further detail or send you a picture of these morning meeting activities.

Try it and let me know how it goes!

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Comments

  1. * Carol Berman says:

    What an easy way to bring learning into the home. Parents can also use these ideas to include children in the planning of meals, trips, special activities, etc.

    | Reply Posted 6 years, 4 months ago


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