Dare to Break Away

From routine, that is. Spice up an ordinary schedule with some simple-to-implement ideas.

By Mollie Moore

Conducting class outside

As a photographer, I have learned the principle that—visually speaking—repetition is great, but broken repetition is even better. In almost every case, it pleases the eye, but why? The reason is simple: a break in a repeated pattern provides a focal point to which the eye is drawn, a spot to rest on, if you will. As our eyes scan an image, we may not even be aware that we are searching for a place to land our gaze. When none is found, we tend to be drawn out of the image as opposed to into it.

I am convinced that children, and adults for that matter, work in much the same way. Repetition, routine, familiarity is good and even necessary, especially for young learners to succeed in the classroom. More often than not, they need to know what to expect. But at least every once in a while, a twist in the routine or even a far stray from the norm may actually help reign young minds back in and pique their attentiveness and interest.

So, what are some ways we as teachers can apply this? Certainly do not stop at these ideas, but here are a few to get you started:

Once per Week, Teach One Lesson Outside

Consider involving the outdoors in your lessons, such as using rocks or acorns for math or other elements of nature for a science lesson. Or simply have your class sit outside and enjoy a change of scenery and weather while you read to them, or they read quietly. If your class does any peer editing or other partner work, you may send the pairs to find their own quiet spot outside, perhaps even on the playground (within sight) to discuss their work.

Bring in a Surprise Guest

Guest readers are always fun and exciting for children. Or perhaps you know someone who is an expert in something your class is currently studying. A new face delivering old or new information tends to be well received.

Take a Spontaneous Stretching Break

Do this anytime, anywhere. Have your kids stand up, do a few jumping jacks, touch their toes, reach for the sky, tickle their bellies, do a dance. A 30 to 60 second break to move and be a little silly can make a world of difference for a fidgety bunch.

Turn on Music

During what may usually be quiet free time or transition time of any kind, turn on a song or two. Choose something well-suited to the mood. It may be relaxing instrumental music, an upbeat clean-up song, or anything in between.

Most importantly, have fun experimenting with changing things up every once in a while!