It doesn't take a teacher long to realize that about 75% of teaching young learners is classroom management. In order to maintain positive classroom management you will need to establish a few essential tools and techniques in your classroom.
Here are a few behavior management tools to help you manage your little ones.
Make the Schedule Predictable
Do the same routine each day. When students know what to expect they are less likely to misbehave. It’s okay when the schedule has to change for specials like music or art, but other than that, make the schedule predictable.
Label everything with pictures or icons. Label where students will sit on the carpet, their chairs, the tables, the learning centers, and the book corner. Anything you can think of, you should label. This will help eliminate the unnecessary questions. Since these little ones are just learning to read, they will be able to visually see where they should go and where they should sit.
Rules Need to Be Simple
Choose three to five simple rules for students to follow and post them with visual pictures in the classroom. Rules need to be positively based so it will teach students the preferred behavior. Post these rules in the front of the classroom and read and review the visual rules to the students each morning and before each lesson until you feel they have mastered them.
Make the Lessons Short
Research shows that young children can’t sustain attention for more than five to ten minutes. To figure out a typical attention span of a five-year-old, you take the child’s chronological age and add one. So, a five-year-old student’s attention span would be about six minutes. Most children between three and five cannot sit still or stay quiet for more than ten minutes at a time.
If you want to keep students engaged and have their full attention, then break your activities and tasks up into small chunks that students can manage. Break up your lessons with fun group activities or games that will keep their attention longer. Incorporate a “brain break” where students can get up and move. Young learners need a lot of movement and interactivity, so try singing songs or partner talk to keep these little ones actively engaged.
Make Quick Transitions
Transition time tends to be the time when students misbehave the most. For this reason, it’s essential to make transitions quick. Choose a visual, verbal, or non-verbal prompt to get students attention before it is time to transition to another activity. You can choose a few attention signals and see which ones students respond to the best. Then, use these signals when transitioning between lessons or activities.
Here are a few teacher-tested tips to help you manage young learners in your classroom.
Keep students busy by alternating activities. Switch back-and-forth between quiet and active tasks.
Do not ask students to stay quiet for more than ten minutes at a time.
Play fun games to stimulate their behavior. Try something like musical chairs to incorporate movement in-between lessons.
Use rewards to keep students motivated. Award table points for students to earn a prize for listening at the end of each week.
Use the Multiple Intelligence Theory to help you incorporate different learning and teaching styles for different subjects.
Play the Detective Game
Select one student to be your detective for the lesson or for the day. The identity of the detective is never revealed to prevent negative feelings towards this child. It’s the job of the detective to keep an eye on the other students. At the end of the lesson/day the whole class will be rewarded if they have done their job and behaved. All students will behave because they never know if it is their name in that envelope, and they all have to work together to make sure that they get that reward.
Rewards can be anything that you want it be. It can be a get out of homework pass, a ticket towards Fun Friday, a treat from the prize jar, or extra free time. Children absolutely love the detective game.