Curious Classroom Book Study: Begin the Day with Soft Starts

Friday, 21 July 2017

Chapter 4

In This Chapter

In The Curious Classroom, the author defines "soft start" as, "not rigid, but gentle, individualized, and peaceful beginnings, driven by personal choice, not ordained by someone else's agenda or requirements."  It's about how you start the day with kids, using intentional openers that slowly ease them into the day.

Since many US teachers begin their day with a morning meeting and might consider this their "soft start," he addresses this at the beginning of the chapter.  Daniels says, "Both models are harmonious and can easily be combined.  The one consistent difference is that the soft starts aim to let kids begin the day by following their own curiosity, while morning meetings are usually a teacher-led whole-class activity."

The chapter goes on to examine four different soft start models that include purposeful play, cross-grade level buddy time, themed days, and using a menu of choices.

What I've Tried

When I think about how I like to begin my day as a teacher, I realize how much I enjoy a little bit of chit chat time with colleagues before things get rolling.  I see the same need in my students!  As they enter the classroom they are bursting with news of things happening outside of school that they want to share with me as well as their friends.

Last year, I provided for this by giving them some "talk time" at the carpet during the span of time between morning unpacking and school announcements.  For most kids this worked well, but for a few, especially my earliest arrivers, they were sitting too long and became a bit itchy.

In other years, I made math tubs available during this time.  While they really enjoyed these and were eager to come in and get started, I'm not sure their need for social time was met.

Drawing from these two experiences, I'm thinking what might be best for my kinders is something with a little more structure than "talk time," along with more opportunity for socialization than math tubs.

What I'd Like to Try

I mentioned in reference to an earlier chapter, how I might like to start the day with a morning book time or yoga.  After reading this chapter, I'm now thinking I might want to offer more of a menu-style opening similar to that described in the section Giving Students a Range of Soft Start Choices.  During this time, the children could read to themselves or with a buddy,  draw, write, do yoga, or explore materials related to a current inquiry.  My role would be to make myself available for listening, as well as guide them to draw, write or read about what is on their mind.

How will you welcome the day with children? Are you rethinking anything as you plan for the new year?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

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Thanks for stopping by!


  1. This is my favorite chapter. It has really inspired me over the summer to give this a try this coming school year. Thanks for your suggestions!

    1. I also loved this chapter! I had never heard of "soft starts" before and it really made me think about how we might begin our day in a more gradual, welcoming way!

  2. Do you have a copy of the letters for students to look at and copy for the letter writing page! I’m hoping to do this with my kids! Thanks!

  3. Hi Rachel! In looking at this post, I don't see what you are referring to when you say "letter writing page?" Is it possibly a different post?