Behavior Management Strategies For Preschoolers - Managing kindergarteners in the classroom involves setting rules and encouraging students to stick to them. Learn the basics of behavior management and explore some strategies that help set and enforce policies in the classroom. Updated: 22/10/2021
The students who will enter the classroom on the first day of school will bring with them a range of experiences with behavior management. Some may come from a preschool classroom where many of these strategies have been introduced, some may come from a home where there was little or no behavior management, and most will come from somewhere in between. The most important thing to remember in managing a classroom of small, impulsive people is to set clear policies that let students know what is expected of them, stick to them, and enforce them for all students.
Behavior Management Strategies For Preschoolers
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Pupils of all ages, but especially kindergartens, thrive in an environment where they know what is expected of them. This means having a clear set of rules that students can see posted somewhere in the classroom. These rules should be written with positive classroom management strategies. Students can even be responsible for writing the classroom rules themselves. This can be done by having a discussion with the students about how they think they should behave in the classroom. Doing this will give students ownership of the classroom and their behavior, making them more likely to understand and follow classroom rules.
As a teacher, especially in early childhood education, it is very easy to decide to let some students slide when it comes to classroom rules. As you move through the day, you may find that some students are more likely than others to deviate from the expectations set by the classroom rules. It gets pretty tiring having to remind a student to raise their hand when they want to answer a question or share something with the class (this is a situation that will come up often - Kindergarten students love to share every little detail of their day with everyone) .
However, it is very important that you require students to follow the rules posted in the classroom. While you may be teaching your students everything from ABCs to math and science to social studies, don't forget that they are very smart. Students will always know when you are lax with the rules and will quickly try to see how far they can push the limits. This is when it is most important that you consistently enforce your policies.
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One of your students (whom we'll call Sherlock) likes to start with long explanations about what he did last night with his friend, his mother, and his friend's mother. He does this several times a day, mostly interrupting her or another student. Although you may be tired of reminding him (for the 19th time) to raise his hand if he has something to say, it's important to keep doing it (even for the 113th time). You can create a strategy where you simply make eye contact and point to the classroom rules to remind Sherlock of what is expected of him.
The policies and rules that you have written (perhaps with the help of your students) will be for nothing if you do not enforce them consistently for all students in a clear way. One of the best ways to do this is to use a traffic light that is clearly visible in the classroom (not a real one - no one expects you to crawl up and borrow one in the middle of the night to bring to your classroom).
This traffic light can be a cardboard representation of a red, yellow and green light to which you can clip clothespins. Each clothespin has a student's name and can be clipped next to the candles. All students start on green at the beginning of the day. This means that they act responsibly in the classroom and meet the expectations set by the classroom rules.
You then decide at what point a student should be moved to yellow. This could, for example, be two more reminders that he is not following the rules. It is important to know and remember what your specific threshold for "cutting down" is and to perform it the same way for every student, every time. Being on yellow should come with an associated consequence, such as not being able to participate in 'leisure' during the day.
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Finally, if a student consistently breaks the rules, even after being moved to yellow, he should be moved to red. Students should be aware that being on a red flag is a very serious matter and is usually accompanied by a note or a call home to the parents.
After reminding himself several times to please raise his hand when he has something to say, Sherlock still breaks the rules. After the second time he had to be reminded, you switched Sherlock's clip to yellow. Another student, who usually always follows the rules (whom we call Watson), seems to be having an off day and needs constant reminders not to call herself. Although Watson is usually very good with the rules, it's important to move Watson's clip just like you moved Sherlock's.
Every kindergarten classroom is different. These tools and strategies will help you begin formulating your own personal behavior management plan. However, don't be afraid to adjust strategies after you get to know your students. As long as you set clear guidelines, stick to the guidelines, and enforce the rules consistently, your kindergarten classroom will be in optimal condition to run as smoothly as a room full of 6-year-olds can.
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When you welcome students back to the classroom after break, you have a lot to learn again when it comes to classroom management. Even if your students are only out of the classroom for a short time, they tend to forget classroom expectations! Just like the first few weeks of school, it is important to remind and share the rules and expectations with the students.
This is absolutely critical. Just as important as the first day of school! Review the classroom rules and expectations, have them posted in your room, and ask students to recite the rules you established together at the beginning of the year. This helps to strengthen the students to take responsibility.
One of the best things I've ever introduced to my students is picture orientation icons. When I verbally give instructions for an assignment, I put a picture icon so my students know exactly what to do. It really eliminates mistakes and "what do I do now??" Questions. It also gives my students an opportunity to practice using the resources around them to solve problems on their own.
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This is so important because our young students really learn from your modeling. Show them exactly what you expect, and have students demonstrate no jerks, too. This really helps them "see" the rules and expectations so they are concrete.
Your students work hard to demonstrate the expected behavior, and you can reinforce this behavior to keep them motivated. I'm always looking for fun, new ideas and I love to be clever, so I like to switch up my reinforcers to keep my students motivated and engaged in our learning. During the winter months, I like to have my class work together to build a snowman!
They work together to earn pieces to build a snowman, and when they've earned all the pieces, they get a reward! The rewards usually consist of extra niche, five minutes of free time, or playing a game as a class. They don't have to cost money, but are very motivating for my students to achieve. You can read more about how to make this snowman for your classroom here.
An engaged classroom is a well-behaved classroom. In our class, we change a lot. Every 15-20 We are working on something new. It's important to keep students moving, but when you're moving around a lot, they can sometimes get out of control. To keep their behavior consistent during transitions, I give them something specific to focus on.
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