Teaching English to Children: Have a routine to start your class

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Teaching very young children who don’t speak English when that’s all you speak can be challenging! It’s driven many an ESL teacher to tears of frustration!

However, establishing routines can be a helpful way to bring some order and calm to your classroom. It’s better for you, and it’s better for the children too.

Teaching English to Young Children: It’s All About Routine

When you’re teaching English to children, especially young ones, it can be really useful to have a routine to get your class started. They know what to expect so they can feel comfortable and secure. You also have a few minutes of your class that you don’t have to put thought and energy into planning in a detailed kind of way.

Sure, it’s a bit boring to start every class off in the same way but for young children (and older ones too?!), it’s all about repetition and review. They seem to thrive on it.

My favourite routine is to have students sit in a circle and then we begin with a few questions. They are simple, easy to answer for the majority of the students and cover some key vocabulary terms.

Some Questions to Start Your Class off With

Hello, how are you today? (allow any answer besides, “I’m fine, thank you and you?”)

What day of the week is it today?

How about yesterday?

How about tomorrow?

What month is it?

What time is it now?

How did you get to school?

How’s the weather today?

What did you eat for breakfast?

How many _____? (hold up some fingers or objects)

What’s your favorite _____?

Review questions from the previous class.

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A yes/no question of the day. Do you like _____?

Learn more about Using Routines for Very Young Students

Other Routines to Start your Classes Off With for Young Children

  • Raising their hands when you put yours up. This can mean “please be quiet,” instead of having to yell above the noise!
  • Taking attendance. This can be the perfect way to ensure that all the students are sitting in their seats and have quieted down before beginning anything else.
  • A hello or good morning song of some kind.
  • Ask everyone to get out their books and a pencil.

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Have your Say!

Do you have any routines for starting off your English classes with children? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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