By: Angela Fisher
Beginning on the first days of school, all teachers in preschool start to teach the class rules to ensure that students understand the acceptable or unacceptable behaviors. The vocabulary is simple so preschoolers can understand them.
Over the years, I have noticed one of the best ways to teach the classroom rules was by creating a book with pictures with our students. The students love to see themselves as the protagonists of the book, and this way, the rules are more meaningful to them.
We introduce each rule separately, not to overwhelming our preschoolers.
Our rules are:
Play together and share
Keep your hands to yourself
Say “Please” when you need help
Wait and take turns
Eyes are watching
Then we practice them throughout the day. We provide many opportunities for students to practice the rules (all year long). Throughout the year we try to have as many fun, hands on activities as possible to teach the rules. My favorite way of teaching social skills is by using books.
We also do small groups to help students practice the rules. For example, I may have 8 students do an art activity and only set out 5 glue sticks. Students can practice waiting and taking turns using the glue sticks. .
Then, another way of teaching our classroom rules is by modeling. We explain our students why we act in a certain way, for example: “I use a quiet voice inside because I do not want to hurt anybody’s ears”.
Giving praise and pointing out when students are following the rules are also a great way of teaching students the acceptable behaviors. In addition, praise is helping us develop positive relationships with students. The praise we use is specific! For example I may say, “Great job waiting patiently for a turn on a bike”.
By the end of the school year, our students internalize these rules, and correct themselves. It is the most rewarding moment for a teacher to see how the community helps each other to be kind to each other and to interact in a positive way.