A Teacher’s Perspective: First Day Circle Routines for Montessori Elementary

NAMC Montessori Elementary Circle time routines and expectations smiling boy

The first day of school is very exciting for both students and teachers. I always look forward to the first day when I am able to greet students and establish our routines and expectations.

As the students arrive, I invite a returning student to give the new students a tour of the environment. They show the new students where to put backpacks, coats, lunch boxes, etc. and where they will find things such as pencils and erasers.

Once all the students have arrived, I begin our time together with a circle.


To start, I light the peace candle. As this is the first circle of the year, I explain the candle’s purpose to the students. I tell them that we light the peace candle at the beginning of circle time to signify peace and reverence. This means that there should only be one person speaking at a time and we show respect to the speaker by sitting silently and respectfully. Then, I ask the students to brainstorm other expectations for our circle times.

Circle Time Routines and Expectations for the First Day in the Montessori Elementary Classroom


Next, I pair up the students and invite them to find a place in the classroom where they can talk quietly and learn more about their partner. They are asked to learn 3–5 things about their partner so that they can introduce their new friend when they return to the circle.

Once the introductions are done, I ask the students to collaborate to create our classroom expectations. I always try to encourage the expectations be presented in the positive. For example, instead of saying “No hitting,” they could say, “We keep our hands to ourselves.” Once the students have brainstormed all the expectations they would like to see in their classroom, I try to guide them to consolidate the ideas into three main expectations that will encompass everything. For example:

  • Respect yourself.
  • Respect each other.
  • Respect our environment.

I like to post these expectations in the classroom so they can act as a reminder for the students. Each year, I try to incorporate this idea into an art project of some form. One year, an older student painted the expectations onto a canvas, and then we each placed a painted handprint onto the canvas to signify that we understood the expectations and were willing to try our best to follow them.

Now that the students are more familiar with the environment and we have established our classroom expectations, they are ready to do some work. In our next NAMC blog, we will discuss how work is introduced on the first day of class.

Julie — NAMC Graduate, Montessori Teacher

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