Why is the Beginning of the School Year so Tough?

 Click to view     At the end of last year there was a discussion on a chat forum in which I participate about which is more difficult, the beginning of the school year, or the end? My vote: the beginning, hands down! Since I teach first grade, and my kids come from the campus across from us (it's still the same school), this whole transition to elementary is especially difficult (sometimes more so for the parents). The parents have to learn new rules and procedures (at the kinder campus they get away with bringing the kids late, at our campus the gate closes after the late bell and kids are not allowed to enter), meet new teachers, coordinators, and the whole process is just overwhelming for many.
    From a teacher's perspective, it's just very slow (sometimes) to establish those routines, and get the kids into the swing of things. For the first couple of weeks, the morning routine was just dreadful. The kids didn't grasp what they were doing, and I even had a couple of parents contact me about how upset their child was about not knowing what to do in the morning. My morning routine consists of 2 sentences to be written and corrected in their journal, and then read. Of course, the kids come in very nervous and unsure, but boy it sure was a painful process as we learn the routine together. Thankfully the kids understand the routine by now.
   Once the kids actually know the routines and have it down, things begin to move more smoothly. This is when we teachers get to enjoy what we are doing, and actually teach. This is why establishing routines from the very beginning is so important. That is also why I do the same thing at the same time everyday. Once the kids get into a routine, you don't want to steer away from it (sometimes we have to, for assemblies or any special event, but those are occasional and therefore can be managed). I do my Daily 3 (a modified version of the Daily 5) at the same time everyday, as with oral language, spelling, phonics, writing and grammar, math, etc. The kids know what to expect, and they end up being able to transition flawlessly for the most part.
   Now that I am in week 4, my kids have the routines down and I can begin to enjoy what I do, which is spend my day with great kiddos and guide them in their learning. The road traveled to get to this point, however, was very, very rough!
   How do all of you establish routines in your class?