Kindergarten Teacher

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Are Rules Needed?

As I mentioned in my last post,(What is your theme?) I will be rethinking rules in my class this year. Currently my school uses citizen traits as the “rules.” They include honesty, outstanding behavior, understanding heart, neat and organized, demonstrate responsibility and show respect. What I really like about them is that they are expectations instead of demands such as “no hitting.” I recently listened to Lisa Murphy ( aka Ooey Gooey Lady) speak at the “I Teach K Conference” about rules in the class. One of things she said that really hit home for me was we need to stop trying to control the child and focus on controlling the environment. Thinking about this I realized that most rules are geared toward controlling the child, especially those with the words “no” or “don’t”. Another point she brought up was loopholes. The more rules we have the more opportunity we give the kids to find them. Lisa mentioned the “we don’t hit friends” rule and the child saying “but he isn’t my friend.” We all know how often kids find ways around the rules. It is important to note that the lack of rules does not mean the kids get to do whatever they want and the class is in complete chaos. I am just going to avoid using the rules to control my class. A great example is the image above. I did not have a rule about standing on chairs and this particular group of kids really never needed a rule. They learned a lot building these tall structures while standing on chairs. They were careful and able to control themselves. Self control is something that kids need to practice to be able to develop. So this year I am going to support my kids instead of controlling them. I will build relationships and work more to control the environment so we can all be happy and successful.

The only rule I know I am going to have this year is “Be Brave.” I stole this from my twitter friend @happycampergirl. I love everything those simple words stand for and it became a big part of our classroom last year. I would love to hear about your rules or lack of rules.

8 Responses to Are Rules Needed?

  1. Jon says:

    I have 3 rules. Be kind. Be safe. Have fun. I could fit in “Be brave” with that.

  2. Thanks for this, Matt. I should read your blog more often. =D One of the things I have been thinking about this summer is how to build stronger relationships with my students. “Stop trying to control them” makes sense. I found this with my own kids, the older one I babied, the younger one I let explore (sometimes I literally turned my back so I wouldn’t tell her “don’t” because of MY fears) and the difference between them is like night and day. Out with control and in with support. It’s gonna be a great year!

  3. Jill says:

    Our school has one rule: You can do anything you want as long as it doesn’t create a problem for you or anyone else in the world.

  4. laura says:

    I agree regarding loopholes and having to know the kids. I have used Conscious Discipline commitments for years, “We commit to mutual respect, helpful words, keeping it safe and attentive listening. I have thought about trying the WBT teaching rules- feels like Keep your dear teacher happy covers everything, but I hate the way it sounds!

  5. irishlady278 says:

    My kids love the keep your dear teacher happy rule and will tell each other that they are/ are not doing it.

  6. Pat Lentz says:

    There are only two rules in my early childhood special Ed room: Be kind. Work hard. That covers everything we need.

  7. Amber Brown says:

    I am just now finding your site. I LOVE the whole idea about rules. Last year when I began my Pre-K class with my kids, I asked for their help to define rules. My kids determined that one of our rules was to “dance”. We began every morning with a dance party and it set the day into motion :)
    The kids also determined that our other rule should be “Have fun”. Those were our rules. I just built in other expectations during instruction and will do the same this year.

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