Changing Routines Can Be Challenging … But Our Children Grow from the Experience … – March 2020
At Villa, we follow a daily schedule which works well for our students. In the morning at 8 a.m., we all gather to start the day together. This is a time when children and teachers begin the day with a simple school prayer (not related to any specific religion); say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag; hear morning announcements from their teachers; and take part in a discussion led by the Head of School about events in the world, school initiatives, and topics related to being the best student and human being that children and adults can be. This is followed by a brief homeroom period, and three one hour blocks of instruction in reading, writing and mathematics. Our afternoons include periods of instruction in social studies, science, language arts, music, art, ethics and physical education.
Fridays are different. Though our mornings remain the same, in the afternoon, children have the opportunity to participate in a variety of elective classes that are led by our teachers. These change each semester and year but may include arts and crafts, cooking, sensory activities, board games, cartooning, coding, 3D printing, sports, debate, beading, and a Planet Earth Service Club. The children love these classes, but each time they change, there is a period of adjustment for many of our students (you cannot continue with the same elective each semester). We think these changes are important for the growth and development of each child.
Last week, we were again challenging our regular routines when the school designated a full week as a ‘Celebration of Reading’. There were special schoolwide events during the week and our Teaching Teams planned many special activities for children on their teams that changed the usual routine. Schoolwide events included a celebration of Dr. Seuss on his birthday with children bringing their favorite Dr. Seuss books and wearing anything that celebrated Dr. Seuss and his prolific writing career; a day when children and teachers came dressed as their favorite book character and brought the book in which their character appeared; another day was designated as poem in your pocket day when everyone carried a poem with them and shared it when asked to by students and teachers; and on the final day, children came in pajamas with pillows, flashlights and blankets to read their favorite bedtime stories together. Grade level teams did author studies, gave presentations on favorite authors, and studied math through literature activities. Our oldest students volunteered to be reading buddies with younger students and had an open mic gathering in a café atmosphere to read poems they liked or had written themselves. During the week we also invited mystery readers and an author to join various groups of students. Perhaps something our students, faculty and staff enjoyed most of all were the unexpected moments when I got on the PA system and told them to “Drop Everything and Read” known as DEAR time. This meant just curling up with a good book for a 15 minute break in our usual routine. We may even continue this practice though not on a daily basis as was done this week.
Changes in routines are hard for some of our students while others thrive during these moments. But we feel that adjusting to change and trying new things are important skills to develop in our young people. We will continue to follow a predictable schedule at Villa, but will intersperse times and days when we introduce new types of learning and routines, supporting our students in feeling confident during these different experiences. Life is full of changes and surprising moments that help us grow and learn. We want our students to be prepared for them and embrace them as ways to learn new things! Meanwhile, why don’t you try having unexpected “DEAR” time in your homes? … we think your family will enjoy this quiet time to read together and change up your usual routines!!