Rituals and phase transitions
Sensible orientation aids are particularly important for elementary school children. Here you can find out what rituals can achieve, what makes them special and which creative and proven rituals are worthwhile for your lessons.
Why elementary school children in particular need rituals
Fixed rituals and habits are a basic need for all of us. They help us to find an inner rhythm and they comfort and calm us when we are confronted with stress, hectic and new or difficult situations. Such “little constants” are particularly important for children: each stage of development brings with it the need for other rituals. Rituals provide orientation, security and safety.
- They regulate the daily and weekly routine and give rhythm to everyday life.
- They take away fears and promote self-confidence.
- They make it easier to concentrate and increase memory.
They create freedom, stimulate the imagination and help the children to develop their own identity.
For successful learning, children need fixed, recurring structures and thus clear timetables, routines and reliable rules and rituals. There are many possible orientation aids – and they can be easily integrated into everyday primary school life.
Ritualize school lessons in a meaningful way
A ritual in the school context is a constantly (possibly daily) recurring teaching element that is part of the usual structure and that enables school beginners to find their way around during the morning lesson even without a pronounced sense of time or to use fixed structures as to provide guidance.”
In practice, there are numerous rituals that have proven very effective. For example, there is the daily planner with colourful symbols for the individual subjects, which you can attach in the classroom so that it is clearly visible. So, the children can always see what’s coming next. In addition, you can write down the date of the day together with the students every morning and pin it on the wall. In this way, you playfully bring them closer to the regularities of the calendar. Morning circles – i.e. storytelling circles – and closing circles are now held at most primary schools and the festivals and holidays in the annual circle are discussed and celebrated with the children. Other “classics” among the everyday school rituals are the daily homework check, the use of reward stamps, the division of class duties and the use of small silence exercises. All of these are examples of rituals that you use to give the children orientation in your lessons.
Practical tips: Creative and proven rituals for your lessons
So that the school day gets off to a good start for the children, you can greet them personally. Wait for your students at the classroom door and greet everyone with an encouraging phrase, such as “I’m glad you’re here.” or “I’m glad to see you.”. In addition, you can gently pat the children on the shoulder or shake their hands.
The daily news paper is a good way to give you an impression of how the students are doing and what they experience outside of school. You sit down together either in the morning or in the farewell circle. Two or three children are allowed to report on their news as “newscasters” per day: What has happened to them since the last chair circle?
Introduce a “secret signal” to get the children’s attention even in busy lessons. So, if you have something important to say or need the children’s full attention for other reasons, a specific sound will play. As soon as the students hear the sound, they stop whatever they are doing and look at you. A possible “secret signal” can be the sound of a wind chime. Be sure to familiarize the students with the wind chime beforehand, pass it through the class and start a playful test run.
To ensure that the children finish their work on time before it is time to clean up, the 5-minute announcer, to which you appoint a different student every day, helps. Shortly before the end of the respective unit, he goes into each learning corner, shows five fingers and explains: “Five minutes left!” After five minutes, ring a bell, bang a gong, or sing a little song. That way the kids know it’s time to clean up.
Another useful helper in everyday school life is a heartache book. To do this, introduce an appropriate notebook that you lay out in the reading or resting corner so that it is accessible to every student. If a child has a problem with a classmate or with the class, they write down their thoughts and observations – as factual as possible – in the grief book. In the last lesson of the week, you will come together in the class council in a seating circle. You (or a student) read out the new entries made in the heartache book during the week. Then those affected have the opportunity to express themselves. Finally, you look for possible solutions or arbitration approaches together. Rules that you agree with the children for disputes, you can write down in the heart book, for example, at the front or on the last page, which are binding for everyone. If you have agreed on certain consequences, you must of course enforce them accordingly.
Incidentally, it is also worth involving the parents in certain rituals. So that the children don’t forget to hand over important messages, for example, you can set up a ” mailbox” together with the parents: You agree that important messages will always be deposited in the bag in a transparent cover intended for this purpose. The parents then take a quick look in their school bag every day and see immediately whether there is a message for them. This saves you, the parents and the children a lot of trouble and spares your nerves – rituals are made for that too.