Classroom rituals and routines are so important in a kindergarten classroom. Five year olds really enjoy a consistent routine and knowing what to expect each day when they walk through the door. I believe that it makes them feel connected. We have rituals for putting away materials, washing hands with hand sanitizer, and even for changing centers.
In my classroom, the children love some of our rituals and look forward to them. For example, whenever a child is absent, I call the child at home and the entire class yells " We miss you...and then say the child's name"! One year I almost forgot to make the call to one little girl. We got busy and I didn't realize it until the school day was almost over. We quickly called her and told her we missed her and hoped she would feel better soon. The next morning she walked up to me,handed me her folder and raised one eyebrow as she looked me in the eye and said " I was beginning to think you were going to forget to call yesterday!" She sounded like a little adult. I told her that we had gotten busy but there was no way we would have forgotten her. Then she wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug.
Young children look forward to being assigned a weekly job. Most of the time they take it very seriously and are so proud of carrying out whatever responsibility they are assigned. Years ago, when fire restrictions weren't so strict, I used to hang center signs from the ceiling. One year I had a transportation theme and a special chair that the child of the day got to sit in. We called him or her "The Big Wheel" that year and the chair they sat in was "The Big Wheel Chair". That name really stuck and so every year for the past twelve years, I have had a big wheel and a big wheel chair.
Morning meetings are also very important to my students which includes a time of devotion. The children really look forward to each daily reading. After reading a passage one morning about being kind to brothers and sisters, one child teared up. I asked him what was wrong and he responded "I think I hurt God's heart this morning at breakfast. I smacked my sister when she wouldn't give me back my show and tell".
One other ritual that my students really look forward to may cause some of you Moms out there to cringe. I give a birthday spanking. I even have students come back for a few years after they leave kindergarten wanting "another birthday spanking". I invite the Mom or Dad in and I put the child over my knee. While the children count, I spank.......my leg. With each smack, I yell "ouch" to the delight of the children. They are a mass of giggles by the time I finish. Who would have ever thought a child would ask for a spanking?
What rituals do you have in your classroom or home?