In this post I’ve shared tips, ideas, and things to consider when creating a classroom dismissal routine for primary grades.
The end of the school day can be quite chaotic if you don’t have a solid dismissal routine in place. Lots of different things can come up at the end of the day while you’re trying to clean up and dismiss your students on time. Last minute transportation changes, an important call from the office, or missing lunch boxes just to name a few. For this very reason I like to have a dismissal routine that students can do on their own if I’m needed to handle something else in the room.
Dismissal routines for students
I’ve always found it best to be prepared with a plan and an end of day routine that you’ve practiced and repeated until students can do it independently. Establishing a routine and being consistent, lets students know what to do without you having to tell them. You may need to give a reminder now and then, but once redirected students will generally get back on track. With consistency and practice at the beginning of the year, your students will practically be able to dismiss themselves!
Plan your dismissal routine.
As you plan what you want done before you dismiss students, think about the routines and procedures your school already has in place.
- Depending on your grade level, will you need to take the class to the rest room before they leave for the parent pick-up line or get on the bus?
- Does your custodial staff require chairs to be stacked?
- What do you want tidied, cleaned, or straightened up at the end of the day?
- Does your school provide wipes to sanitize desks? How often will you do this?
- Do your students wait in the classroom to be called for the bus or car line or do you walk everyone out?
- Will students need to gather backpacks, lunch boxes, and papers from their cubbies or the hallway?
- Do you pass out homework each day or on a weekly basis?
Put your routine on a poster.
Keep it simple. Break your dismissal routine into simple steps and make a poster for students to refer to. We call our end of the day routine Pack and Stack, so I put that on the poster.
Clean up the classroom.
When planning out your end of the day procedures make game out of cleaning up. I love to come in every morning to a clean and organized classroom, so I have students pick up trash and clean up the floor around their desks.
Play “mystery trash” by telling students you are eyeing something specific on the floor that needs picking up. Once the floor is clean, delight your class by announcing who picked up the mystery piece of trash!
Another game we play is “staple stare down”. Give a few students magnets and let them pick up any stray staples from the floor. This is always a highly coveted job!
Give every student a job.
Assign each student dismissal tasks like emptying their cubby, getting their backpack and lunch box, and tidying inside their desk. Assign a student, or group of students, an extra end of the day job. I assign tidying type jobs for these areas:
- Library helper straightens the classroom library books
- Paper passers pass out any notes from the office or classroom newsletters
- Table leaders check to make sure the area around their table is clean and everything is put away
- Assign one student to place the trash cans out in the hall to be emptied.
- Computer table cleaner shuts down desktops and straightens the area
- Calendar helper changes the date on the calendar and straightens that area
- Pencil sharpener sharpens a set number of pencils and places them in our pencil can.
On Friday afternoons everyone gets a disinfecting wipe to wipe down their desk.
Set a timer.
When it’s time to get ready to go home, set a 3-minute timer. Setting a timer can keep students on task and make sure you don’t lose track of time.
Call one group at a time to get coats and empty cubbies.
The last thing students do is stack their chairs and stand by their desk. I call one table (6 students) to line up at a time. I’ve also done this part by calling all the bus riders to line up first since they were dismissed a few minutes before everyone else. Check the procedure for this at your school.
Consider where your class will be at dismissal time.
If you have recess at the end of the day, think about whether you’ll need to dismiss students directly from the playground or if you’ll have time to go back to your classroom first. There have been years I’ve had recess at the end of the day and we would complete all our dismissal tasks before going outside. Students would take their backpacks and belongings out to recess with them.
The same thing holds if you have specials at the end of the day. Consider whether you will pick up your students and dismiss them from their specials class or go back to the classroom first.
Start earlier than you think you need to.
Give yourself extra time if you can, especially at the beginning of the year. Things often take longer than you think they will and if something comes up it can through off your whole routine.
Plan quieter activities for the end of the day.
Save simple activities like read alouds, journaling, independent writing time, or silent reading time for the end of the day. These things are easy to put away and don’t require a lot of direction from the teacher that can tax tired brains at the end of the day.
I hope you’ve found these classroom dismissal procedures are helpful and you’ll try some of them in your classroom. Save this post for later or share it with your teacher friends who might find it beneficial. Have great dismissal tips you’d like to share? Post them in the comments below.