Methods for Reinforcing Good Behavior in a Kindergarten Classroom

Consistent reinforcement will help encourage good behavior.
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Kindergarten students, while usually sweet and well-behaved, can still act out in the classroom, particularly when they're bored or have been sitting still for too long. Because kindergartners are still too young to think abstractly and don't always understand logical consequences for their behavior, it's crucial for teachers to have methods in place to encourage obedience and deter inappropriate behavior. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to go about doing this.

  • Two jars
  • Marbles
  • Colored Paper
  • Scissors
  • Two baskets
  • Pencils
  • Small prizes
  • Index cards
  • Marker
  • Stickers

1 Two Jars Method

2 Or recycle two different jars

Purchase or recycle two different jars without lids. Pickle jars or small canning jars work well. Label one jar with something like "Our Class is Behaving" and the other jar with something like "We Need to Work Harder."

3 Place small marbles

Place small marbles into the "We Need to Work Harder" jar. Choose whatever color of marbles you would like. Use about 50 marbles for kindergartners so they are rewarded soon enough to make the method more effective. Flat marbles create less of a mess if the jar tips over and spills.

4 Tell them

Show kindergartners the jars and tell them that they need to work together as a class to move all of the marbles from one jar into the other. Remind them that when everyone is doing what they're supposed to be doing, such as listening, lining up appropriately and following classroom rules, you will transfer one or two marbles into the "Our Class is Behaving Jar." If the class isn't doing what they're supposed to do, you will move marbles back into the "We Need to Work Harder" jar.

5 Give the kindergarten class

Give the kindergarten class a reward when all of the marbles have been moved into the "Our Class is Behaving" jar. Show a short movie or give the students a few extra minutes of recess.

6 Good Behavior Slips

7 Cut colored paper into several small squares

Cut colored paper into several small squares. Put the blank squares of paper into one basket. Have a second basket ready, but don't put anything into it yet.

8 Hand one

Hand one square of paper to a student when you catch her behaving. For example, give a student a slip for sitting quietly while waiting for directions or for standing still in line the first time you ask. Remind all the students that they can earn slips if you catch them behaving and that each kindergartner can earn more than one slip a day.

9 Ask the student

Ask the student to write her name on the slip of paper and put it in the empty basket.

10 Draw a name

Draw a name out of the basket at the end of the day. Give the student whose name you draw a small prize, such as a pencil-top eraser or a sheet of stickers.

11 Throw away the rest

Throw away the rest of the slips and start over the next school day.

12 Stickers

13 Write each kindergartners name on an individual index card

Write each kindergartners name on an individual index card.

14 Tape the index cards

Tape the index cards to the students' desks or hang them from a classroom bulletin board.

15 At the end of the day

At the end of the day, place a sticker on the index cards of students who behaved appropriately in the classroom. Remind students who did not get a sticker what they can do differently the next day.

16 Award small prizes

Award small prizes, such as pencils or erasers, once a student gets a predetermined number of stickers on his index card.

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.