What Makes Students Follow Classroom Rules Effectively?
We have come a long way from when we believed young children to be a ‘blank slate’ for adults to write on and mold. Child psychology has shown us that individuals are born with a personality and have social and emotional needs like adults do. A lot of the times when children appear to be misbehaving or acting strange, it’s either only age-appropriate behavior or their needs are not being met. Let’s look at some of their needs and characteristics and how fulfilling them will help manage a class:
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Benazir B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
1) They need to feel important much like adults do;
- Address them by their name. Hearing their name tells them they are important enough for you to address them personally and take note of.
- Recall previously shared experience to show that you don’t forget incidents that matter to them.
2) Children feel humiliation much the same way adults do.
- Discipline them in private. Scolding them in public will be more embarrassed rather than helping them realize their mistake. It may even hurt their self-esteem making socializing difficult.
3) Too many rules or instructions are confusing, overwhelming, and constricting. Reduce the number of rules in the class.
- Structuring the physical environment. For example, instead of prohibiting them from opening and closing the door on their own, place finger guards to allow the same.
- Provide self-explanatory, self-correcting materials to reduce instructions.
- Rephrase instructions to replace ‘don’ts’ with ‘dos’. Instead of saying ‘Don’t run the hallway’, say ‘you may run in the playground but use your walking feet inside the building’.
- Give them choices when they are unable to share or get along with others. For example, if the child can’t share their blocks, ask them, ‘Would you like to play with the cars or do you want to continue to play the blocks.’ The child is likely to choose the cars where they might not have to share.
4) Children have similar needs for motivation as adults do.
- Give them an aim to work towards. For example, tell them at the beginning of the class what you want them to achieve by the end of it.
- Explain the purpose of the activity. Invent one when there isn’t an apparent one. Say,’ We’re going to learn to create secondary and tertiary colors out of primary ones. This way when you don’t have a color, you can just mix and make your color.’
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5) Children are far from perfect.
- Let them know you are looking for effort rather than perfection. Perfection is an unachievable and unrealistic goal. Nobody’s perfect.
- Don’t rush to their aid every time they make a mistake. Give them room to figure out where they’re going wrong and learn from their mistakes. Proband hint if you feel the need to.
6) Stress and anxiety hinder learning and development. Children function better when they are relaxed.
- Keep a calm demeanor and voice. Children will reflect on your attitude and behavior.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously and laugh out silly mistakes and mishaps. The classroom is a place to learn from one’s mistakes.
- Don’t raise your voice. Humans are born with two fears; the fear of height and the fear of loud noises.
7) Children will appreciate and follow the rules if they make sense to them.
- Explain the reasons for having certain rules. For example, say,’ we will take turns to talk because if we all talk at once it will get noisy and you won’t be able to make out what you are saying.’
- Explain the consequence of breaking the rules. Tell them, ‘if you run down the stairs, you might stumble and hurt yourself. You might even have to sit out outdoor playtime if you’re hurt too bad.’
8) Children need autonomy in much the same way adults do.
- Give them responsibilities. This will also show that you trust them to deliver. You could select a special leader each day and give them the responsibility to distribute books and pencils and play the tambourine during the tidy up time.
- Facilitate them to solve their problems instead of solving them for them. Ask them what they think the problem is, what they can do about it, why their solution did, or didn’t work.
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Children are unique individuals that have unique personalities. They are also constantly learning from their environment and often don’t mean any harm when they make a mistake. The teacher must help them channel their personality and express themselves in socially acceptable ways without losing their individuality. Often this task of grooming and teaching will come with unforeseen problems which might be overwhelming at times challenging and demanding the teacher to get creative and tackle the problem. Amid all the chaos, one must not forget to enjoy the journey, with the children, that learning is.
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