Are you a teacher of two- or three-year-old children? Do you struggle with feeling like your classroom is hard to manage at times? You’re not alone! Many teachers strive to create an environment in which the class is following their direction, but aren’t sure what strategies to put in place to help maintain control.
The following are some easy tips to really make a difference in your classroom:
When children understand exactly what is expected of them, it provides much-needed consistency. Setting expectations also frees you to engage with the students more, rather than attempt to “put out fires.”
• Print and laminate a visual aid, such as pairs of feet, for the children to line up at the door.
• Create a job chart to hang on the wall with the children’s photos pasted onto popsicle sticks – they can choose their job for the week and move their stick to the correct spot during Monday’s circle time.
• Make sure that all of the children have the same rules, and follow through as best as you can. For example, if one child gets to perform jobs throughout the week, they should all have jobs. Please do not remove any children from group activities such as circle time in order to perform special jobs with the teacher – consistency is key!
Use words and non-word prompts.
• Tell the children what will come next as they are engrossed in an activity. For example, as they are having snack, tell them, “Ok, everyone, when you are done with snack, you can go to the ____ (or play with ____) before we start ______.
• Use a NON-WORD prompt for transitioning; such as a bell or a certain part of a song, rather than frequently telling them “Time to clean up! Time to line up!” Breaking out of the pattern of consistently telling them with words generally encourages children to pay attention to those non-verbal cues.
Help the children decrease impulsivity and learn to attend to task.
• Some children really benefit from sensory input while they are attending to a seated task. Examples include: a sit disc or cube chair at circle time, an exercise band wrapped around their chair’s legs (so they can kick or stretch against it), and fidgets for keeping hands busy during reading time.
• Allow for plenty of options for independent and teacher-led movement throughout the day. Examples include: animal walks during transitioning, teacher-led songs or activities such as Simon Says and “Going on a Bear Hunt,” reducing sitting time throughout the day.
With these strategies in place, your classroom will be calm rather than rowdy!
Jen Brown, MS, OTR/L
Director of Occupational Therapy Services