In this lesson, we will look at classroom rules and procedures for preschool. We'll define what a rule is and look at examples of rules that you would want to consider for your classroom. We'll also look at procedures and the importance of teaching them to your students.
As a preschool teacher, one of the biggest challenges you'll experience is classroom management. You're going to have to come out of the gate running on day one with rules and procedures for your classroom to ensure smooth sailing the remainder of the year.
Your students will be coming from different backgrounds. Some may have experience staying at a daycare setting while their parents worked and should be somewhat familiar with classroom rules and procedures. Other students may have always stayed at home with mom, or dad, or a caregiver who did not provide strict structure throughout the day. You'll also have students who fall somewhere in between and have had experience with some structure and rules throughout the day.
Structure means there are certain times during the day when the class will focus on a particular topic. For example: from 8:00 to 8:30, we eat breakfast. Then from 8:30 to 9:00 we practice writing letters. After that, from 9:00 to 9:30, is recess.
Let's take a look at what rules are. Rules provide an environment that is conducive for students to learn and they provide for the teachers sanity. They help eliminate distractions, disruptions, and poor behavior. Keep your rules short (no more than five), simple, and clear. This will make it easier for your students to understand and follow. Some example rules are:
- Listen and follow directions
- Raise your hand before speaking or leaving your seat
- Respect your classmates and your teacher
- Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself
You are going to want to have these rules clearly posted in your classroom. Also, it's recommended to include pictures of what each rule looks like. At this age, students aren't going to be able to read, but they'll understand the rule if they see an example of it.
As you go through each rule, model what that rule looks like. Also, show your students an example of what it doesn't look like. Think back to being in high school and attending your foreign language class for the first time. How did that teacher welcome you to class and how did she conduct that class? If your teacher was like mine, he or she would have begun to speak to you in a different language to immerse you with the new language, thus forcing you to settle into the class. Rules should be handled no differently.
Especially early on, you will have to refer back to the rules with your students, until they learn them well. Teaching classroom rules is just as important as teaching your students the alphabet or numbers. If you want them to be successful with following the rules, you're going to need to teach the rules to your students.
What about procedures; how do you see your class operating throughout the day? Procedures are going to provide structure for the daily operations of your class. Just as you did with the rules, you're going to want to have your procedures visibly posted in your classroom. You will also want to refer to them throughout the day.
When you refer to your procedures, show the students, by pointing to them. For example, if art is over, and it's time for lunch, go to where your procedures are posted. Point at art and tell your students, 'art is over.' Then, point to lunch and tell them, 'now it's time for lunch.' The more consistent you are with following your procedures and referring to them with your students, the quicker your students will be to learn the flow of the classroom.
Also, have the classroom very organized so it's easy to follow procedures. Students will know exactly where to find all materials, making learning processes more efficient.
You are likely to have many classroom procedures, such as:
- Entering the classroom, which includes greeting the teacher and putting backpacks and coats in their designated space
- Beginning class activities, or turning in homework, gathering in a circle, taking attendance
- Transitioning between classroom activities, such as gathering materials, cleaning up materials, turning in classwork
- Eating routines, like washing hands, sitting at a lunch table, disposing of garbage
To have a successful school year, it's important to provide a structured learning environment for your students. This can be successfully done with classroom rules and procedures. Remember to not overwhelm your students with too many rules to follow. Keep the rules to no more than five. Also, keep the rules simple. Maintain consistency throughout the day by adhering to your procedures. The more consistent you are the more likely students will know what to expect throughout the day. Most important, have fun!