Effective classroom management, or how a teacher organizes, motivates and controls her class, creates an environment that fosters learning. In a preschool classroom, patience is the key to a successful classroom management plan.
Enlisting the students' help in the classroom gives them a chance to feel like they're part of the group and keeps them busy when they become bored or antsy. A bulletin board displaying the day's classroom helpers next to the names of the students is a helpful visual aid. The teacher should rotate classroom helpers every day or week. Classroom helper roles might include line leader, snack helper, art supplies coordinator or calendar assistant.
Display each child's name on the wall of the classroom on a behavioral incentive chart. Such charts can be very motivating for preschoolers. They enjoy earning the incentives, and they will not want to see symbols of poor behavior displayed next to their names. Some teachers choose to coordinate this type of display with a classroom theme, such as frogs collecting bugs or elephants collecting peanuts. A traditional display with students' names surrounded by gold stars or some other typical reward element is also effective.
Downtime in a preschool classroom can lead to a teacher's downfall. When there is a lull in the scheduled activity or routine, busy preschoolers will find a way to fill it. An effective preschool classroom management strategy is to make sure that every minute of the day is filled with purposeful activities. If the students understand that there is always a specific activity they are supposed to be doing, they will be less tempted to find their own amusement. Displaying the daily schedule prominently in the classroom helps further this strategy.
The transitional time between activities can be a time of disorder. If preschool students do not have an established procedure for switching from circle time to a table activity, for instance, they may choose to make the transition by running around the room and screaming at one another. To avoid this, teachers should explain to the children what they must do as they move from one activity to the next. Offering a very limited window of time to make this transition is also helpful. Students will be so busy preparing for the next activity that they will not have time left to get into trouble.
Preschoolers respond to routine and regularity. Teachers can establish a certain sound or motion that signifies the action they should perform. This may be a way of telling students to close their mouths and turn their attention to the teacher, or it might signal the end of an activity and the preparation for another. Some teachers like to do a call-and-response system, in which they call out one word and the children respond with another to indicate that they are listening. Other teachers might use a special instrument to make the sound, such as a drum or a kazoo. Others prefer to flick the classroom lights on and off or hold up two fingers in the air. It can be helpful to have a specific cue to let the children know that it is time to re-focus their attention on the teacher and prepare for further instructions.
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