Whether you are in a child-centered environment or not, children thrive on routines and rules. They love to know what they can and can’t get away with. It keeps everyone sane and helps minimize breakdowns. These rules are classroom rules or home rules that, I believe, help create good humans. 🙂
My 5 Essential Classroom Rules
- Turn Taking
- Table Manners
4. Voice Control
I cannot stress how important it is to be kind to children. How adults treat and talk to children is SO important. what we say affects how children think about themselves. If you keep saying a child a bad or they “can’t do it” that is what is shown on the outside.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
I honestly treat children like they are 5 years older than they are. I don’t want to be talked down to, so I try not to do it with children. Children don’t know *how* to be kind, we have to show them. When a child hits, instead of scolding the child, I try to show them there is a different way to be. I remind them, “gentle touch” and have them give their friend a gentle touch.
Kindness also covers how we treat our toys. Children shouldn’t be kicking, throwing, stepping on, or destroying materials. This is a harder one to fix but with constant, gentle reminders that we get to be kind to our toys helps our friends think about how they are playing with materials.
This can be with toys or when interacting with peers. Research shows children learn more words when people interact with them. Meaning adults need to talk to children how they would anyone else.
Ask questions and respond genuinely.
We live in a world full of distractions where children get more interaction through a screen rather than face-to-face. They will have to interact with others eventually, we should start teaching communication skills as early and frequently as possible.
I’m not perfect with this, there are times when I don’t pay attention when a child says “Watch me!” We are all human. However, I do try to ask questions and have a conversation with children. Circle time is a great time during the day to practice turn-taking during conversations. You can ask children about their night, what they want to play today, or their favorite thing to do. Once you have one child talking everyone wants to talk. It is a time to remind children that “I asked ______. It is their job to talk. When they are all done I will ask someone else.”
Along with not interrupting, circle time allows children to practice listening skills. Circle time for young children should be no more than 15 minutes. Their little brains and bodies have trouble focusing for much longer. This is a time to sing, communicate, regroup, and to have fun!
With toys or personal objects I encourage my children to ask each other “How many more minutes until you are all done?” And the other child will respond with “___ minutes”. At the end of the time, they get to share with their friend. Toys that belong to the center are for sharing. However, toys from home I feel differently about. If a child brings a toy from home, I think they have the right to say they don’t want to share. BUT once they share with one friend, they have to share with every one else.
That part may or may not be the best but I have some very emotional kiddos and that is the best way to solve that problem without having meltdowns becasue they don’t want to share with a certain child. Often times, once they are able to play with a toy once, they don’t need to play with it afterwards.
If you are like my family, we eat dinner at the table together every night. When we eat with children every day they are able to see how we interact with each other and sit at the table. I think children should sit, unrestrained, during meals as soon as possible. It will be hard work, but your child will impress early childhood teachers when they are young toddlers and can sit through a whole meal at the table.
Fork/spoon work is also so important. I have seen some children who are 2-3 who choose to shovel food in with their hand than using a utensil. The more they are exposed and reminded, the more capable they will be. Same thing with cups. The more children are exposed to drinking out a cup without a lid, the less likely they will spill. Plus, there is a sense of pride children have when they have the “big cup”.
There are cups like these that can be used as a transition stage. The use of a straw helps children build up muscles in their mouth which helps them form different sounds. So really, we should be transitioning children to cups as soon as possible.
Now, there is a fine line with children with laughing during a meal and playing at the table. Children need to laugh and interact with peers during all parts of the day! I have worked at places where they want children to be silent during meals. It killed me to tell children that they couldn’t talk. Odds are, children and families talk while they eat at home. Why is a Child Care Center any different?
Playing at the table is one thing that I don’t allow. Playing leads to more spills and messes. There are other ways children can get a sensory need met or interact with their peers. I tell my kiddos, “Your job right now is to eat breakfast. When we are all done we can play.” Sometimes they will remind each other that their job is to eat, not play. When children are playing, they don’t usually notice things around them (such as plates and cups) and that is when most food is spilled.
I can go on about other bits on table manners such as keeping feet under the table, sitting on our bottoms, keeping our milk pushed up. But I would hope that those bits are being practiced at home and school. Spills and messes happen. And they can be cleaned up as easily as they were made.
Whispering is a great skill for children to learn. Yelling is also a great skill to learn. Knowing when to whisper and when to yell is also a very great skill for children. I don’t have any tips on teaching voice control. I am a firm believer that how you, as the adult, present yourself is mirrored in the children. You respond with calmness, they generally respond the same way. However, livestrong.com has a post on teaching children how to use their quiet voice. Using a yelling voice comes easier to most children.
Keep in mind, if you have a loud environment, children will have to at least match the background noise to communicate with others. Often times, they will speak louder than background noises so that they are heard. If you want a quieter group having a calm environment (decor should be calm, music should be calm, and you should be calm).
This is the school-teacher in me coming out. It is so important for children to walk while they are inside, unless it is okay to run inside. In the classroom, walking is a must. In a gross-motor inside space, running is okay. Outside, running is encouraged. Young children don’t have the best coordination so walking is a way to keep everyone safe. Plus, how often do you see people running through stores in public? Not very often. I try to encourage children to move in different ways (marching, hopping, crawling), remind them to use walking feet, or take them hand in hand and practice walking.
Having young children walk enforces body awareness and body management. Children are having to think about how they are moving their body and how it moves when they walk verses when they run.
When you have a running problem, position furniture in the room in a way that forces children to pay attention to what is around them. Create walk-ways instead of run-ways. Some children, will run anyway. They are just children, they are still learning. Similar to voice control, if you have a busy environment, children feed off it and are then extra busy. Classroom rules can help keep all children safe and accountable for their actions.
Enforcing Classroom Rules
With everyone enforcing classroom rules, children will feel comfortable and won’t try to push boundaries constantly. Change won’t happen over night, but with constant reinforcement of rules children will stop testing limits. Days will be smoother and you will hopefully have a group a children who are kind to each other. If we want children to be competent in society, we should set them up with guidelines to be successful. Rules we choose to have in a classroom or home should reflect rules we want children following when out in public.
Thank you for reading! Let me know your essential classroom rules in the comments!
If you enjoyed this, check out these other bloggers!
The Repurposed Nanny – She has bits of everything from DIY, Lifestyle, Kids, Recipes, and Decor.
The Playful Learner – Words cannot express how much I love Amber’s blog. She sees childhood and learning just like I do! A time to play and explore through play. I urge you to check out her blog!
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