Every teacher establishes their basic classroom rules such as: no talking when the teacher or others are talking, raise your hand if you want to speak, be kind to others, etc. No matter what grade you teach, rules should be in place in September. I did not realize that I should have created rules for a number of things in my classroom.
Each morning we have center or play time. I just figured that the children will play whatever they want to and everything will be fine. Why should I give myself more work and make up rules if everything will go smoothly? I did not realize that there were a lot of things to think about during this time.
When I was in school, only five children were allowed in the kitchen area at once. On certain days, I have most of my class in this area which causes a lot of problems. First of all, there is a lot of noise coming from this area when most of the class is there. When there are more children, they make more of a mess. I find kitchen items in the middle of the floor which causes a safety hazard. When it is too crowded, some of the kids do not know what part of the kitchen to play in, so they start playing and rolling on the floor, like they are outdoors. Some start chasing each other and running around the classroom. I finally made a rule that no more than five children can be in this area at one time. It may have to come to the point where I will need to make a schedule so that everyone will get a chance to play in this part of the room.
I also had to set other rules. The only thing that could be played on the carpet is the building blocks. All puzzles, and toys in containers, must be used on the table. Since establishing these rules, I have noticed a big difference in the noise level and the room is a lot safer because things are contained where they are supposed to be.
I also had to change a couple of things about silent reading time. Again, the class was getting way too noisy and some children were using this time for socializing. I finally had to give them assigned seats. I also had to set a limit of only taking one book off the shelf at once. At times, there would be books all over the carpet which can be very dangerous because someone can slide and fall. Before creating these rules, three or more children would look at one book which caused pages to rip. I have had to throw away a number of books because of this.
I have found it necessary to give my children assigned seats when doing table work. I thought they could just sit wherever they wanted to, but I found out soon that was not going to work. The same thing goes when they sit on the carpet. If they did not have assigned seats, they would be fighting constantly over who sits where.
These are just a few examples, but there is so much more that can be said about this. By not establishing these rules from the beginning, I made my job harder. It is better for the children to learn the rules from the start, then to suddenly make a change during the year. Since they are so used to doing things one way, it is difficult to adjust later on.