Best Practice: Establish a Consistent RoutineBrooks
Education research demonstrates the importance of routine for young learners. Benefits of having a predictable daily routine include a sense of safety, increased independence, and the development of positive habits. These benefits also have the impact of putting children’s minds in a more receptive state for learning. It seems that elementary students face more and more disruption in their daily routines—many times involving changes to their location of learning, changes to the different extra curricular classes they attend, and even changes of their classroom teachers throughout the day. On top of all of this, when kids go to Spanish class, the change in the language can be very daunting. This is why it is so important to establish a consistent routine and structure in your Spanish class.
The Sonrisas Lesson Structure
We have designed the lessons in the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum, in Levels I and II, to include the consistent routine of Circle Time, Story Time, and Art Time. The same kinds of activities happen each day within these segments of the lesson. Students do calendar activities, sing songs, play games, and do the lesson activity in Circle Time. In Story Time the teacher reads a children’s Spanish storybook to students. In Art Time students complete an art project which is related to the theme of the lesson. This routine does not change. In fact, even within this routine, teachers are encouraged to do the activities and songs in the same order during each lesson. We have found in our own classes that this is very effective for prek and elementary Spanish students. Within the structural routine of the lesson, students build linguistic routines for responding to specific questions or singing specific songs. These linguistic routines build communicative proficiency with vocabulary and phrases.
Outside of the Lesson Structure
Even though the Sonrisas lessons provide a consistent routine and structure, there is a lot that goes on outside of this structure. You have transition times to and from Spanish class. You have transitions within the class, and you have classroom management that needs to happen. Our recommendation is to make these types of interactions as routine as possible. For example, each Sonrisas lesson begins with a greeting. This can be a very effective transition from students’ English speaking part of school to their Spanish speaking experience. It helps to flip that switch. If it is done in a consistent way each lesson, it not only provides learners with the benefits of routine, but it also gives them the opportunity to build strong foundations of language base on this simple interpersonal communicative interaction. You can establish routines for what happens when students need to use the restroom. You can establish routines for rewards and consequences for classroom behavior. You can establish routines for what happens when students transition from each segment of the lesson. The key is to establish the routine and then be consistent with its implementation.
It can’t be underestimated how important routine and structure are in your prek and elementary Spanish classes. Not only will your students realize the benefits of routine, but you will find that routine makes it easier to maintain focus and rhythm in your class. The result is that your students will have a more effective learning experience.