Greetings Shark Families,

Pumpkins, and skeletons, and costumes, oh my!

You sure can feel autumn in the air and the excitement of Halloween around the corner!  This is the time of year that teachers love to celebrate with children, but it definitely does make for a lot of wiggly friends at school ~ wink!   So we dance, and we sing, and we celebrate, and we do lots of fall art projects to channel the children’s energy.  Too, we really depend on our classroom routines.  They are the glue that very much keeps us together.

Predictability is an important part of building an environment of trust and safety, the bones of building a community.  Establishing predictable routines help children know what to expect and it helps them feel confident and capable in the group. The Sharks have come, in just a short time, to really depend on our morning routines and the consistency of them.  They are the bones of our community that allow us to walk off the beaten path (i.e. Project work) when the time comes, or moments of spontaneous inspiration arise.  Too, now that the children are older, there are routines that may differ from last year. I would love to share with you my favorite daily routine, a special piece of our morning together.

After cleaning up from our free play time each morning, the Sharks gather in a circle on our classroom rug.  For some, it is the first time they are seeing each other, having played in different areas.  Each Shark finds their name card that has been placed on the rug, and eagerly sits down.  There is usually a hush to start in the circle, as we take a deep breath together and make some stillness in our bodies.  We then share a greeting around the circle.  Everyone is welcome!  It may be a handshake and a “Good Morning!”, a good morning song, or a heartbeat where we hold hands and pass along a gentle squeeze (this is our favorite!).  After our greeting we count how many friends are at school.  We think about who is here and who is not here.  Too, in the days and weeks ahead we will ask ourselves such questions as, “Hmmm, if we have 10 Sharks in class when everyone is here, but three are absent today, how many do we have all together?”  Or, “If all 10 Sharks are here, and 0 are absent, how many sharks do we have today?”  There are so many wonderful ways to grow our math muscles during Circle Time!  Talking about math muscles, a favorite piece of our Circle Time routine is looking at our calendar and figuring out the date.  It seemed very overwhelming to the children at first to see all those numbers and boxes, but you can now find them studying the calendar closely each day, counting the numbers (we love the big ones life 28 and 29!), and recording special happenings like birthdays and holidays.  At the moment, we are so excited to count how many days until Halloween!  Also, our time together in a circle is a time of sharing, a time to be heard and to listen to one another, to ask questions and to make comments.  It’s wonderful to see how their attention and focus has grown in just some weeks, as they have settled in.

Lastly, another routine that the Sharks take very, very seriously is their weekly jobs.  Wow, they have stepped up to take charge of and real ownership in and around their classroom space.  Whether it be setting up for snack, putting out our book baskets (the Librarian), being the Line Leader or Caboose, the Pinch Helper (helps when we are in a pinch!), or Snack Host and table washer, they are humming with responsibility.  Too, not a day goes by where you don’t hear one Shark say to another, “Do you need some help doing your job?” “I can help you!” “Let’s do it together!”

Yes, our daily routines help make for a strong team.  They are our bedrock as things move and change on a daily basis ~ curriculum, seasons, growth and development, etc.  Too, there are a great many important skills imbedded in them that are necessary for the coming years ~ social skills, math and literacy skills, the skills of attentiveness, listening and engaging, responsibility, and many, many more.  Most importantly, our circle is a place where all feel welcome, safe, even warm and cozy.
Shark Families, have a wonderful long weekend!  Play lots, be out in the sun, and have fun!
I look forward to having the children return to school on Tuesday!