Rituals and Traditions-Fostering a Sense of Community

RitualsWelcome back to the exploration of the book, Rituals and Traditions, Fostering a Sense of Community in Preschool by Jacky Howell and Kimberly Reinhard. In our previous blog we wrote about the benefits that this great new resource highlights.  The book’s authors share many wonderful ideas to create rituals and traditions in your classroom.  So in this blog we would like to highlight three of our favorites:

1. Making mealtimes special – this idea is similar to a formal dinner in a family.  Think of a day, i.e Friday and a mealtime,i.e. snack time.  Now think of what can be added to the snack time to make it elegant or formal?  The authors suggest a tablecloth, real plates and silverware, and flowers or electric candles.   Get the children involved by giving each one a job.  Then have everyone sit at the beautiful table and enjoy a meal together. During your special meal facilitate a mealtime conversation.  You may consider creating a jar/box of conversation starters so you can choose a new conversation idea each week.  Some suggestions from the book are:
a. If any animal could come and live with you, what animal would you choose?
b. Tell us about a time you did something fun with your family.
c. What is your favorite thing to do in our classroom?

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2. Building a community through Breakfast Club – we LOVED this idea!  Does your program start the day with a healthy breakfast?  If yes, this is a great way to engage families and support positive transitions to school.  Breakfast Club is a simple concept, all you need is to add adult-sized chairs near your breakfast area and encourage families to join their children for breakfast. Teachers should also involve themselves in this time.  This activity strengthens relationships with families and children.  The authors state, “My relationships with families and their relationships with each other have blossomed.  It is family engagement at its best!”

3. Days-of-the-Week Rituals – many of us have routines around the calendar.  Creating rituals around this routine enhances learning by helping children have a greater sense of life’s structure and rhythm.  “Creating moments – rituals – that children can look forward to, count on, and predict make some of life’s unpredictable moments manageable and less scary.  When children understand that there is a beginning, middle, and end to days, weeks, and months they are likely to feel safe and secure.”  The authors suggest adding visuals to the calendar to help children understand that the event is unique to that day.  For instance, Monday is “Happy Face Day.”  On “Happy Face Days” there is a special event or center available for the children to work in that is special and matches the children’s interests.  It is marked on the calendar with a smiley face. The authors suggest starting with one or two rituals a week then move towards a special ritual for each day.  

The authors provide reflective questions and one that we’d like to leave you with is, “What routines and rituals do you plan that form the structure of the week? How can you create a special ritual to mark one or more days of the week?”  

Remember, we believe that repetition is the key to success.  “We are what we repeatedly do.” – Durant

This is our philosophy around integrating American Sign Language (ASL) into the classroom.   Through consistency, repetition, and dedication children learn ASL easily.  We have recently published a new training video, Why We Use ASL in the Classroom.  

Still looking for even more?  Try integrating ASL into your new rituals and traditions. We have created lots of helpful resources for you. Visit one of our stores at Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook.  Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  

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