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.


Related Posts

11 Tips for Using Technology Effectively in Your ESL Classroom

11 Tips for Using Technology Effectively in Your ESL ClassroomDepending on where you teach, technology might be readily available for you to use in your ESL classroom. However, using it effectively, and not just for the sake of using it, is another thing altogether. Some teachers might also be too intimidated to use technology in their classroom and instead sticking to the traditional style […]

READ MORE →

Teaching Tips: Activities to Get Them Moving

Teaching Tips: Activities to Get Them MovingHave students that can’t sit still? Well, don’t make them! Here are a few activities to add into your lessons to get students up out of their chairs, moving around, and having fun while they learn. Whether you want an engaging warmer or are looking for a new game to shake things up a bit, […]

READ MORE →

How to Deal with Children’s Learning Difficulties

How to Deal with Children's Learning DifficultiesAt the beginning of their schooling, children suddenly become students – evaluated by their school achievements. School becomes the most important place in their lives and learning the most important activity. But what happens when a child cannot master the curriculum? When a student cannot master the curriculum and does not score grades that match […]

READ MORE →

Short Films for ESL Students

Short Films for ESL StudentsThere are numerous ways in which you can use video clips and short films in your ESL lessons. Whether as a warmer to pique your students’ interest or as a main activity for the class, using media can enrich your lessons and capture your students’ attention. While you may be sold on using video clips […]

READ MORE →

6 MORE No Prep ESL Games & Activities

6 MORE No Prep ESL Games & ActivitiesAny ESL teacher knows the merit of having games and activities in an ESL classroom. Not only can these games and activities be used as a time filler or extra practice, but they can also be used for warm-up activities, breaking the ice, or adding a little fun to the class. In this article, we […]

READ MORE →