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July 31, 2008

Breaking the Routine

Routine, routine, routine. It is practically shoved down a parent’s throat these days! A consistent bedtime routine helps to encourage healthy sleeping patterns. A daily schedule, chore chart or list can help a day run smoothly. In my work with our students this summer, I have learned that for some, learning to break the routine is just as important.
I use many songs and rhyming chants to help us navigate through our day. After two to three weeks most students are singing along. The amount of language and literacy development is off the charts!
Here comes the tricky part. Two of my Early Childhood Special Education students are now stuck. It is difficult for either of them to complete a task if the routine has been changed. For example, during morning meeting the students are asked to find their written name and then their picture, which is hanging on a bulletin board. They are then supposed to turn around to greet their friends by name. My co-teacher and I have noticed in the past few days that Mia, one of our routine loving students, is not listening to the words we are saying, but going through the motions by heart. We decided that we would help Mia practice her adaptability skills by adding to, subtracting from or changing the routine.
It is amazing to watch how one little change can throw off a child like Mia. I am thankful that she feels safe and welcome in school. These big learning opportunities would not be possible if she did not trust her teachers. The first time we tried a change in routine, we asked Mia to sit down before finding her picture. From the moment the words left my mouth, Mia looked stressed and attempted to ignore my directions. I asked her to stop what she was doing and really listening to my words. With much patient practice we are slowly getting used to using our ears to hear and our brains to process important information!

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