A preschool classroom is often a child’s first classroom experience, and may only be the beginning of years of academic affairs. During these formative education years, children learn a variety of life skills, including self-control and classroom behavior expectations. A classroom environment with clear rules helps children understand what is expected of them and others in the classroom community. Setting basic ground rules also allows teachers to teach more effectively.

As a child care center owner, it’s essential to understand that classroom rules are more than just guidelines for children to follow. These rules also help teachers implement expectations and clearly define their role as instructors.

Parents want their children to learn, grow, and excel in a safe and nurturing environment. Creating classroom rules for preschool ensures parents that you are providing just that. Read on to learn seven helpful tips for creating effective rules in your preschooler’s classroom.

Keep Rules Concise

Young children can become overwhelmed when given too many expectations at once. A long list of rules is less likely to stick with little kids. Therefore, keep rules short and simple, even if there are many expectations to which you want your students to adhere. Make classroom rules clear and concise. Some examples of clear and concise rules include “Be safe” or “Line up quietly.”

Phase your rules in a positive manner

To help children remember your classroom rules, it helps to frame them in a positive light. Phrasing your classroom rules is more likely to persuade kids to follow and respect the boundaries you put in place. Most of all, this creates a more engaging learning environment. Positive classroom rule statements like “Keep your hands and feet to yourself” or “Listen when someone is talking” are good examples of constructive classroom rules, as opposed to using words like, “Don’t touch others” or “No yelling!” Keeping your rules positive creates a safe and productive learning environment for your students.

Encourage suggestions from students

Engage the children in your classroom when it comes to creating rules. In addition to building a positive classroom community, this also helps children feel more connected to your classroom environment.

Display classroom rules visibly throughout the classroom

When we discuss the visibility of rules, it doesn’t just pertain to the location where you display your classroom rules. Making sure that all students can easily hear and understand classroom rules during discussions is equally important. You may need to modify your classroom rules based on different activities or groups of students to ensure that everyone can see and hear your expectations clearly at all times.

Model the rules

Children tend to observe the actions of the adults in their lives. That’s why your rules must be practiced by the adults in the classroom as well.  Set a positive example for your students. Model your classroom with your actions. If you remind children not to yell, be sure not to speak in a loud voice as well. Otherwise, this can send a confusing message to your students.

Use classroom rules as a teaching opportunity

When someone breaks a rule in your classroom, you can use this as a teachable moment as you remind students about the importance and meaning of following regulations. You can reinforce classroom expectations by encouraging appropriate behavior each time students behave as expected. You may even want to create charts or reward cards that children can earn when they follow the rules of your classroom. Make sure your rewards are age-appropriate and don’t distract kids from learning activities.

Rewarding children for following classroom rules is best done if everyone can “win.” It’s suggested that you set up guidelines that allow for all classroom rule behaviors to be recognized. If every child follows the same classroom rule, there isn’t any need for individual recognition or rewards.

Show grace for broken rules

Above all else, classroom rules are meant to teach children discipline and make them successful individuals in school and in life. There will come a time when a classroom rule is broken. As you acknowledge that a rule has been broken, you can also use it as an opportunity to teach children about the importance of monitoring one’s own actions and apologizing if appropriate. Avoid singling out children who break a rule, as this can cause more harm than good. Instead, speak to that child privately as you discuss the behavior in question.

Classroom rules are essential in creating a classroom environment that fosters successful learning. Follow these tips as you work to implement your center’s classroom behavior guidelines.

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