Have you tried a soft start in your classroom? If you are a parent, you know how frantic mornings can be at home, trying to get everyone ready and out the door for school. Many of our kids arrive at school having just been rushed through breakfast, brushing teeth, and getting dressed. They’ve been told multiple times to get their backpacks and don’t forget their water bottles! They were rushed to the bus or through the car line and finally made it to school.
What if instead of immediately jumping into morning work when they arrive, students walked into an environment that was calm and comforting. A place where they had a chance to settle in and prepare their minds and bodies for the academic day. This is what a soft start is all about.
What might a soft start look like?
Anything that will put students at ease and help them make the transition from home to school. The possibilities really are endless. Provide some quiet activities that students can choose from when they arrive, instead of the typical worksheet or review page.
20 Soft start ideas:
- deck of cards
- small whiteboard with expos
- geoboard and rubber bands
- play dough
- reading corner
- drawing/coloring (include How-to-Draw books)
- pattern blocks
- journaling station (paper, pencils, prompts)
- Magna tiles
- box of fidgets
- paper with stencils
- Mad Libs
- Connect 4
- pipe cleaners and beads
- Rubik’s cubes
- magnet wand with chips or paper clips
How a soft start works in my 3rd grade classroom:
My students begin arriving in my room at 8:15. There are a few things they all must do first. They unpack, turn in their folder, put their backpack away, and use the restroom if needed. We work on these procedures during the first few weeks of school so they are in the habit and know what to do. Then they choose from 4 or 5 soft start activities around the room that they want to do. Reading is always an option, but I will rotate the other choices each week so they don’t get bored with them.
At 8:35 I have an alarm set to play a song and when they hear it, they know to clean up and be in their seat before the song is over.
I have loved seeing how soft starts give my students the freedom to come in and transition to the school day in a way that feels comfortable to them. It helps them slow down and start their day in a more relaxed and peaceful way.