Wouldn’t it be nice if our circle time always looked as calm and peaceful as the teddy bears in this picture?
Well, even though the young children we teach may be even cuter than teddy bears, they’re rarely as good at sitting still. Real, human children tend to talk, kick their feet out, touch the people around them, talk, shout, grab things, interrupt, make odd noises, talk, and roll around on the floor, Oh, and talk. A lot.
Since the beginning of the school year is approaching rapidly, (I think I hear some interruptions already), this seems like a good time to ask: What are your favorite classroom management tips?
Here are four of mine:
Best time to deal with problem behaviors? Before they happen. At the start of every circle time, at least for the first few weeks, I go over the non-negotiables: We sit criss-cross applesauce. We listen when the teacher is talking. Hands are in our laps. And so on. I try to keep these rules short and sweet.
Redirection, or “the old switcheroo.” Instead of saying, “Stop pulling Arpita’s hair!” I try, “Ethan, can you clap while we sing this song?” Rather than “Don’t scream!” I’ll say, “I’ve got an idea – let’s all talk in whispers.”
Mini-reminders. I don’t pay (and therefore bring) more attention to problem behaviors than I have to. Often, a quick look and a word or two, “applesauce” or “look up here,” will do the trick.
My “Jedi mind trick.” The night or morning before each class, I visualize the children calm and smiling, ready to listen and learn. I hear myself thinking, “Wow, this is going wonderfully.” Believe it or not, this is my number one most effective way to have a well-behaved group (or somewhat well-behaved – this is an early childhood classroom, not a board meeting!)