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Teacher Tips: 10 Tips for Creating Classroom Rules

This is a good time of year to revisit rules and limits for a more peaceful, harmonious classroom.

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

1. Keep It Simple. Too many rules overwhelm young children! For starters, introduce three general questions that cover most situations: Will your behavior hurt other people? Others' feelings? Others' belongings?

2. Collaborate! Look for the "teachable moment" as situations occur. Together, see if you can find logical ways to determine classroom rules.

3. Share Books About Limits. Read a book such as Under the Table by Marisabina Russo (Greenwillow, 1997; $15) to help children understand why there are some things they cannot do. Encourage children to role-play or use puppets to dramatize real, as well as pretend, scenarios.

4. Set Realistic Expectations. Rules and limits should leave room for children's creative ideas or different situations. For example, if a rule is that children must not draw on the wall, paper could be attached to the wall to create a mural.

5. Chart Those Limits. Let children draw some representative symbols or dictate key words for you that represent classroom limits. Ask where children think this reminder chart should hang to be easily seen.

6. Make a Suggestion Box. Place paper and markers in the writing center so children can write or draw their thoughts and feelings about classroom limits. Ask them to drop these in a suggestion box to use during class meeting discussions.

7. Add Fun for Reinforcement. Sing songs about limits as you walk outside with children. Play games such as Simon Says when limit reminders are needed.

8. Tap Into Learning Styles. Give a warning by gently patting a back (tactile), or humming a tune (auditory).

9. Acknowledge Efforts. Let children know how you feel when they respect limits. Take instant photos to share on a documentation panel. Provide art materials they can use to create their own "I did it!" banners or "appreciation" buttons.

10. Brainstorm Changes. As children grow and change, some classroom rules will also need to be changed or adapted. Brainstorm ideas with children and actively listen to all suggestions.

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  • Subjects:
    Early Learning, Cooperation and Teamwork, Classroom Management, Manners and Conduct, Teacher Tips and Strategies
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