How to Establish Classroom Routines

Routines help students know what is expected of them throughout the day.

Establishing effective classroom routines early in the school year helps keep your classroom running smoothly and ensures that no time is wasted while students wonder what they should be doing during times of transition. Classroom routines can be established for many activities, including entering the classroom in the morning, transitioning between activities and preparing to leave the classroom. The basic procedures for establishing solid routines remains the same regardless of the routine procedure that you are teaching your students.

Explain the routine to your class. Tell your students why the routine is important and what you expect them to do as part of the routine. If you want your students to enter the classroom quietly in the morning and select a book to read, explain how entering the room this way helps get the day started quickly; define what quietly means, because without clarification, some students may consider quietly to mean a whisper voice while others will take it to mean no talking. Allow students to ask questions about the routine and your expectations.

Model your expectations. Act out, in detail, what you expect from students when completing a routine. Break the routine down and narrate what you are doing. Show each step of the routine and how it should be properly completed. For example, when showing students how to leave their seat and sit on the carpet, model getting out of a chair, pushing it in properly, walking to the carpet and sitting on the floor in the correct way.

Have students practice the routine. Select one or two well-behaved students to demonstrate the routine first, allowing the class to see how the routine should be completed by a student. Once students all understand what is expected, have the whole class practice the routine. Younger students may benefit from completing the routine one step at a time before practicing the whole routine at once. Have students practice the routine until the class feels comfortable completing the routine without teacher assistance.

Implement the routine in your day. Once students understand the routine, have them complete it during the day. As you implement the routine, remind students of the proper procedure and your expectations, making your reminders less detailed until they are able to complete the task completely on their own.

Review your routine as necessary. If the class struggles to remember the routine or has trouble completing the routine after a break from school, review your expectations and have students practice the proper way to complete the routine again.

  • Introduce one new routine at a time.
  • List your routines in the classroom for older children to review.

Based in Florida, Mandi Titus has been writing since 2002. Her articles have been published on sites such as Goodkin, Go Green Street and Living the Healthy Way. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Stetson University.