Establishing Classroom Rules for Kindergarten

I have received quite a few requests, both by comment and email to feature some more of my classroom organisational and behaviour management tips and lessons here on my blog, especially from new teachers at the beginning of their career..... so I am going to try to do at least one a week. As most of my bloggy friends are in the northern hemisphere, (currently approaching  back to school mode), what better time to share some back-to-school and establishing the classroom ideas! Please leave comments with your ideas too - after 12 years I still love learning new strategies!

I love to do my listening lesson in the first days on Kindergarten, which is really just an introduction to listening. I continue my listening rules and management through the use of action rhymes and settling techniques throughout the year. One way I love to settle my group of students is by simply clapping their names …. “Thank- you-Jo-sh-u-a” for example, and add a clap to every syllable. The children clap and say this back. It serves very well as a getting-to-know the names of the class activity, listening and language activity and best yet, settles their behaviour as they try to be the next person named (select students displaying appropriate behaviour and make a nodding gesture toward them as you clap and say their name). I usually clap around ten names, or at least until the whole class is settled. It is a great way to keep some of the students busy while waiting for other students to tidy their desk and return to the mat.

After a day or two in Kindergarten I like to establish some classroom rules with the class. Somehow they always end up the same every year –he he he- this is achieved through carefully guiding  the discussion and the suggestions the students make. By seeking their input into the rules, the students feel like them have contributed to the rules of the class. I start with a general discussion on what a ‘rule’ is and talk about their homes and family rules. We discuss the rules they have at home, what consequences occur when they break rules and why we have rules at all. It is always a very interesting discussion. You will need to be sensitive to the social and cultural context of your school.  I then take suggestions for a set of rules in ‘our’ classroom. We write them all down on chart paper (I quickly draw matching pictures as most cannot read yet). I take all suggestions and then work through the list, verbally grouping the similar rules e.g. a student might say that a good rule to have in the classroom is ‘do not run’ and another might say ‘don’t run with scissors’….. I suggest to the students that these two ideas might be grouped together as ‘we move safely in the classroom’. Most ideas that are suggested by students can be grouped into a short list of basic rules that are broad enough to cover lots of things but specific enough to promote positive behaviour.

For kindergarten I like to have the rules

-           as short and specific as possible (the students need to understand the language -they will not understand things like “responsibility” and “respect” early in the school year). You can revise your rules later in the year if needed

-          displayed with a little picture to represent the behaviour

-          displayed clearly at the front of the classroom on a chart that is next to a chart that outlines the consequences of breaking rules

-          written in positive language (e.g. instead of ‘don’t run’ – have a rule ‘we move safely’)

I use Boardmaker software for all my ‘behaviour’ graphics in the classroom. I am a VERY visual learner and teacher. Just about EVERYTHING in my classroom has a ‘visual’ on it. Visuals assist the students in their behaviour by giving them visual prompts or steps to help them in the process. I have visuals for just about every routine in the classroom – especially at the beginning of kindergarten. I have visuals for how to pack your bag, the morning routine, the daily timetable……everything. I don’t sell these in my stores, as I do not sell anything I have created for my employment as a teacher. There is a wonderful ‘Boardmaker Share’ website where you can download lots of visuals and resources that other teachers have created with Boardmaker. Two years ago I purchased my own copy of this fantastic software as I just wanted to use it so much. The school I work at has a copy, but to use it you must have the CD in your computer  while you use it. I wanted to use it at home when I was preparing materials for the classroom. It is pricey, but I have LOVED having it and never regretted spending the money. I upgraded to a more advanced version (interactive abilities for the Smartboard), - you just return the CD and pay an additional small fee to get the upgrade. You can try a free trial of Boardmaker if you want to see what it is all about and a good place to start.

I have a ‘Simple Classroom Rules’ packet for sale on TpT. This is a printable resource kit that includes the pieces you can print to make a Classroom Rules Poster for your own classroom. You can use the pieces included in this file to paste on your own cardboard poster, classroom door, window or noticeboard. This pdf file contains one title "Our Classroom Rules" and six colourful and simple rules "be nice", "be safe", "try hard", "share", "care" and "listen". Each rules has a colourful picture to help those students not able to read yet.

I would love to send a free copy to the first two people to leave a comment here on this post. If you don’t want to type out your email in your comment, just contact me (details in contact section of my blog here) and I will email it to you.