Would you like to set up a classroom job system to help your students learn responsibility and practice life skills? Before you pick up the popsicle sticks, job cards, or clothes pins to create your job chart, keep reading! I'm sharing a simple alternative to using classroom jobs in kindergarten. It's my favorite way to keep a classroom helper system from complicating my classroom management.
Why Class Jobs Don’t Work in Kindergarten
As a kindergarten teacher, I have tried a large classroom job system that rotated students through a variety of classroom jobs. It didn’t last long, and here are four reasons why:
1. Hard to Remember
There is a reason why student jobs are usually posted prominently in the classroom. They are hard for EVERYONE to remember! There are definitely things you can do to make this easier, such as assigning weekly jobs instead of a new job every day. This way, everyone has more time to get used to their assignments. However, I still found myself struggling to remember who is doing which job and who has or hasn’t done a certain job before. Plus, I’d rather use my bulletin board and pocket chart space for other classroom visual supports!
2. Difficult for Guest Teachers
While some people think that a well-run system of classroom jobs can make things easier for a substitute teacher, the reality is usually different. Substitutes might not know what each job entails, have trouble remembering student names, or forget to remind the correct helpers to do their jobs. In a kindergarten classroom, this can quickly become chaotic.
3. Resistance to Less-Preferred Jobs
It won’t take long for students to develop favorite jobs! When students have less-preferred job assignments, you might find that they are less likely to chip in and do their part. Does this create teachable moments about responsibility? Sure. But it can also create conflict among your students, which leads to the final drawback.
4. Impacts Classroom Community
One thing that is common when classroom job charts are used with young children is that they begin to police each other more than focus on their own job. Students are often quick to point out who is doing their job incorrectly or not doing it at all. This is definitely not helpful in creating a healthy sense of community in the classroom!
A Kindergarten Classroom Job Alternative
Instead of rotating students through a large number of classroom jobs each week, I chose a simple alternative. In my classroom, we called this system “Helpful Hands” but you can give it any job title you’d like. Here’s how it works:
First, create one hand for each student on a printable hand-shaped visual. Arrange the hands in a way that makes sense for your class, such as alphabetical order or by class number. Put these hands on a ring for display. (I recommend using shower curtain rings, like these, instead of binder rings.)
Next, you want to hang these helpful hands where you can quickly change out the daily helper by flipping through the rings. Each morning you can share the student’s name with the class. Even though it’s helpful to keep it displayed where you won’t forget, it won’t take long for the students to be excited to see which name is next! You’ll be sure to have plenty of reminders to switch out the daily helper.
Finally, give your helpful hands any tasks or little things you need help with during the day: Handing out papers, line leader, calendar helper, door holder, picking up the lunch box bucket, and so on!
Benefits of Using a Teacher’s Helper
Here are some of the positive changes I noticed in my classroom when I stopped assigning a large number of classroom jobs to my kindergarten students. (These are in addition to the obvious benefit of saving time and mental energy.)
Since the assignments for daily helpers can be more open-ended, you can individualize and scaffold so all students can succeed. You can choose the specific tasks that you’d like your helper to complete during the day that will help them feel like a responsible student.
Better Experience for Guest Teachers
Instead of the chaos of juggling a bulletin board full of jobs, substitute teachers will enjoy the simplicity of this streamlined system. You can leave a list of possible jobs for your daily helpers to make it even easier for the sub to replicate your system! One set of helpful hands will provide extra help for the guest teacher in a much more streamlined way. They’ll be able to think more about supporting learning and behavior than supervising a mini workforce.
Easier to Account for Absent and Tardy Students
It is definitely possible to have a classroom job of “substitute” to account for students who are absent or tardy. However, this is just one more thing to manage and it can get complicated when multiple students are absent, tardy, or leave early for appointments. When a student is absent for their turn of being the classroom helper, you can just catch them on another day.
Build Responsibility and Classroom Community
Having just one helper for the day keeps other students from policing the classroom job board. They aren’t pointing out students who are doing their jobs “wrong” or forgetting their responsibilities. This cuts down on conflict and supports classroom community.
We can all agree that one daily helper would be exhausted trying to take care of every single task from a traditional job chart! Instead, the class as a whole can still take care of these tasks, just in a different way. Most classroom jobs are really just things that students should be doing as responsible learners. I have found that it’s more worthwhile for students to work together and chip in throughout the day rather than assigning one very specific task for a week at a time. This is a great way to give students a sense of responsibility and prepare them for the real world.
How to Set Up Classroom Jobs in Kindergarten
This video gives you a closer look at how I have used the classroom helper system in my classroom.
FREE Classroom Helper Printable
Would you like to try this simple alternative to the traditional classroom job system? I have created a freebie to help you get started! Just click below for your editable classroom helping hands that you can easily customize for your classroom!
Save These Tips About Classroom Jobs in Kindergarten
Be sure to add this pin to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest! You’ll be able to quickly find this post whenever you’d like to come back to these tips for classroom jobs in kindergarten.