The Importance of Routine and Structure in Your Sonrisas LessonBrooks
In general, children thrive when they have routine and structure. Every Sonrisas lesson consists of the same structure: Greeting and Roll Call, Circle Time, Story Time, Art Time, and Good-bye. Having a consistent routine and structure for your classroom will not only benefit your students, but also make teaching easier.
Establish a consistent routine and structure for your Spanish class. Language acquisition increases when children are able to take risks and experiment with language—and that happens when they are in a safe and comfortable environment. You can create this environment by establishing a consistent routine and structure. Students can then predict what is going to happen next, and they know what is expected of them. Establish your routine at the beginning of the year and communicate your expectations for behavior. Even within the structure of the Sonrisas lessons, you can establish your own sequence of how you do things to establish a routine. For example: You might start every Circle Time by taking roll and end it by introducing the book you are going to read. You might start every Art Time by going over the vocabulary for the art supplies and end it by having the students share their work with the class. You might begin or end every class with the same song. Regardless of how you do it, the important thing is to be consistent. This also has the obvious benefit of increasing the effectiveness of your classroom management. Your students will be less prone to act out if they feel safe and comfortable and know what is expected of them in each part of the lesson.
Use repetitive language within your routine. We cannot stress enough how effective this is. If you have an established routine in your class, your students can easily achieve fluency with repetitive language that is given meaning by the context of the routine. Essentially, you make it easier for yourself and your students to use Spanish consistently by using it for regular classroom tasks. For example: If you close the door each day after greeting your students, you can begin to have one of your students do it by saying, “Juan, cierra la puerta por favor.” This can become part of your routine, and you can have a different student do it each day. You might introduce Roll Call each day by stating, “Vamos a ver quién está aquí.” As you get ready for Art Time each day, you might assign a helper by asking, “¿Quién quiere repartir las tijeras, el papel, etc.?” The opportunities for this kind of repetitive language within an established routine are many, and once students achieve fluency with this language, it becomes easier for them to apply it in new contexts.
Adapt the structure of the Sonrisas lesson to your scheduling needs. One of our biggest challenges in developing our curriculum was to meet the many different scheduling needs of preschool and elementary Spanish teachers. Every Sonrisas lesson consists of the same structure: Circle Time, Story Time, and Art Time. We have found that there is a great deal of flexibility in this structure because each part of the lesson can be taught independently, and the lesson can therefore be adapted to many different scheduling situations. Although the Sonrisas lessons were designed for a two-class-per-week schedule, they can easily be adapted to other types of schedules. For example: If you teach once a week for 30 minutes, you can take two weeks to teach one Sonrisas lesson. One week you could do Circle Time and Story Time, and the next week do Circle Time and Art Time. Or, you could do a 30-minute Circle Time one week, and do Story Time and Art Time the next.
Probably the greatest flexibility comes with Circle Time. Once you have established a repertoire of songs, games, and activities from the lessons, Circle Time can be 5 minutes or 25 minutes. The benefit for you is having an established structure in which to develop a consistent routine, while also having the flexibility to adapt it to different scheduling needs.