Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rules, Rules, and Fewer Rules!

It is that time of year when many programs are in transition; new children are enrolling, some are moving to a different classroom, it is the beginning of a new school year. This is a great time to re-visit your classroom rules to see if they are working for both you and the children in your program.

The following are some general guidelines for rule-setting:
  • Your rules should be limited to a few of the most important ones.
  • The rules need to make sense to the children.
  • Rules should be stated in positive terms (Be safe, walk inside).
  • Rules should be short and easily repeated.
  • Rules need to be appropriate for the ages and stages of the children in the group.
  • Teach each rule to staff, children and families.
Whatever rules you decide are important, the children should be part of the process of setting those rules.  For example, you might choose three simple rules such as:

1. Take good care of yourself. 
2. Take good care of others.
3. Take good care of our school or classroom.

As part of your circle time or your morning meeting time, you can discuss each of the rules and find out what it means to each child.  “Taking care of yourself” might mean stay safe, walk inside, or hold the handrail.

“Taking good care of others” might mean using soft touches, or talking softly while inside.

And “taking good care of our classroom” can mean be careful with our toys or color only on the paper.

The children will come up with a lot of great ideas, and you can help them see how they fit under each of the simple rules. Then you can use the consistent language of the rules for each situation. “James, take care of yourself; sit on the swing.”

You will know your rules are working, when you do not have to continually remind the children about following them.

Written by: Barb Vigil, Early Childhood Specialist
Adapted from Child Care Plus+

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