Elementary school-age children can be some of the most rewarding students to teach. Their uninhibited creativity and curiosity is unparalleled. However, these same character traits can make young students some of the hardest to manage in the classroom. Never fear, there are a number of tested and true behavior management strategies that are relatively simple to implement.
- Establish classroom rules on day one, and post them clearly.
- Word the rules simply, in order to make them easy to remember and understand, and broad enough to encompass a range of behavior problems. For example, say “Be Respectful” instead of “Don’t insult students or teachers, use profanity or call people names.”
- Make sure consequences are established for rule breaking, and are posted alongside the rules.
- Explain the reasoning behind the rules, using simple examples that are age-appropriate. For example, tell students that it is important to be respectful to others so that they will be respectful to us, to think about a time when someone hurt their feelings, or ask that before they say something, think about how it would make them feel if someone said the same thing to them.
- Make sure the parents or guardians of the students are made aware of the rules and consequences before problems develop. Send two copies home with the students, one to keep there and one for a parent to sign and return. If possible, go over the classroom rules in person with the parents during an open house or parent-teacher meeting.
- Perhaps the most crucial strategy is to enforce the established rules consistently. If you let the rules slide for certain students or in certain circumstances, you could seriously undermine your ability to enforce the rules in the future.