Classroom management is key to good teaching in any grade. In kindergarten, it is the most important aspect of teaching because the children have had no schooling experience before, and so do not know how to behave. Also, they are too young to have acquired such skills at home or anywhere else. Therefore, a teacher at kindergarten has to take the pain to teach children what is expected of them from the very beginning. It calls for a lot of patience and persistence from the teacher, but in the end, it will pay off for sure if used consistently. The keywords here are clarity and consistency. You need to use simple words and be clear. And if your classroom rules change from day-to-day, children will not know for sure what is expected of them.
Below given are some of the most effective classroom management techniques for kindergarten.
1. Explicit teaching of routine procedures
Children in kindergarten are just learning to make sense of a chaotic world. It helps them a lot if they are taught what exactly is to be done at certain times of the day. This has to be done in the beginning of the school year, and reinforced as needed. Also, this has to be taught explicitly, by modelling the desired behavior. The most important routines to be taught are:
- Beginning of the day routines
- End of the day routines
- Bathroom procedures
- How to line up
- What to do the child needs help
- How to walk in the hallway
- How to cut and paste
- How to get toys to play and how to put them back
- How to throw rubbish in the rubbish bin
- How to use spoon and fork to eat
- Table manners
2. No prolonged sitting!
The top most technique is to not expect children to sit and listen to you longer than they can, considering their age. Most preschool children cannot sit at one place still, for more than 10 to 15 minutes. They get wiggly after about 10 minutes. So you need to let them do something physically. One of the best things to do is to stand up and sing an action song. It satisfies the urge to move, gets blood moving, improves the mood, and makes children happy. And singing songs is in itself a learning activity.
3. Teach the model behavior explicitly
Imagine that one of the rules in your class is for children to raise their hands before they ask a question or say something. You need to teach this rule. You can start reading a story, and if someone asks a question without raising their hand, you say, “That is not allowed. The rule is that before you ask the question, you raise your hand and ask my permission. So let us try again.” You read that part of the story again, and let the child raise his hand before asking the question. This will surely teach the children what is the desired behavior.
4. Praise and reward the child who gets it right
The power of positive reinforcement is immense. When a child gets an answer correct, or has behaved well, or has done his duty, you can get the whole class to clap. You can also give a ‘good job’ stamp or let him wear ‘good job’ hat for a while. In some kindergartens, there is the practice of having a ‘class pet’ which is typically a teddy bear or any other stuffed toy. During the day, the class pet stays in the class propped up against a corner. The best-behaved child can take the toy home after school is over. Another popular way of showing appreciation is a sticker chart displayed right in front of the class, where each good behavior will get a star against the name of the child.
5. Time out
The classic punishment of ‘time out’ is, though old-fashioned, very effective. If a child refuses to follow instructions out of sheer willfulness, you may ask the child to stay away from play time. Having to sit in a corner while the whole class is playing with toys is something that no child wants to do. Time outs are very effective if practiced consistently. You need to be gentle but firm with children who throw a temper tantrum when they are given a time out. You also have to decide a place for the child to sit during time out and decide on how long you will want the child to sit there. Whatever you do, please make sure that the time during ‘time out’ is not enjoyable for the child. Otherwise, children will look forward to it and intentionally misbehave.
Do share with us if you have some valuable classroom management tips.