The Two Sides of Classroom Management for Very Young Learners

 

Being the teacher means having to play two roles simultaneously: the warm caregiver and the stern taskmaster. Knowing how to balance the two will mean the difference between a happy attentive class and chaos.

During a kindergarten class – or any class full of young learners – things can get out of control very quickly. They don’t always have to though. With the right consistency and strategies, you can always be in control. This will require wearing at least two different hats, however.

The key to classroom management success for young ones is being flexible and stern at the same time. Let me explain.

Feeling a little shaky on classroom management? Maybe you can start here: Classroom Management in a Nutshell

Being Flexible

Young kids need a lot of variety. Their attention span isn’t nearly as long as an adult’s, or even an older child. They need activity changes. Frequently. For that to happen, you’ll need to be flexible. Your lesson plan may not actually go according to plan. After some experience, you’ll be able to tell when young children are getting restless before they stop listening and start running around.

Even with your rules, which we will talk about soon, you will still need to be flexible. Ground rules are important, but others may need to be bent occasionally. For example, if you are watching a video and have asked the children to sit in their seats but some are getting up, switch tactics by asking everyone to stand to watch. Or if the ones standing aren’t bothering anyone and it’s a short video, don’t say anything at all and ask them to sit down afterwards. In short, don’t be a stickler when it’s not needed.

Being Stern

On the other hand, all children need rules. It creates order in their lives. As the teacher, you need to come up with your own system of simple rules that will be enforced at all times. For example:

  • Feet stay on the floor
  • No hitting
  • Raise your hand

As for a system for enforcing these rules and managing general behaviour, there are several ways of creating one.

  • Have a name chart for which students receive stars (and they can be erased)
  • Have a no nonsense attitude that students will respect and always be aware of
  • Have a tally chart (similar to a name chart)
  • Create teams for team points

The most important thing here is consistency. You can only let things slide after the students really get to know you and you have already established rules. Remember that establishing them isn’t good enough. Kids need practice and reminders constantly to keep expectations solid and fresh. Working together with a local teacher if you don’t speak the language is also good. Share your ideas for classroom management together to make sure you are both on the same page. Above all, don’t forget to have lots of fun!

Want more teaching tips? Visit our Teaching Tips blog.

About the Author

Yvette Smith is an English teacher currently in Vietnam. She has taught in China and Mexico as well. She enjoys writing about the ESL field and thinks everyone should take the chance to travel abroad at least once in their lives.


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