Classroom rules can easily become a quickly forgotten part of the day-to-day classroom management in kindergarten. Let’s face it: A list of rules posted on the wall can easily blend into the classroom decor and rarely be thought of again. In this post, I wanted to share some tips for establishing classroom rules in kindergarten so they can become a worthwhile part of your classroom management.
Tips for Establishing Classroom Rules in Kindergarten
Setting classroom rules and expectations is part of the foundation for strong classroom management. Students are less likely to exhibit expected behaviors when they don’t know what’s expected of them! This is especially true for young kindergarten students since many of them have never even been in a school setting before.
Setting up classroom rules for young students can seem daunting at first. There are so many expectations and behaviors that need to be explicitly taught to young kindergarteners! I wanted to share some tips from my time as a kindergarten teacher to make this a little less overwhelming for you.
1. Less is More
This is one of the most important things to remember when you’re establishing rules for a kindergarten classroom: Less is more! A long list of rules can be difficult for students to remember, making them less likely to even try to follow them. It’s also more difficult for you to teach and consistently reinforce the rules when there are so many!
Instead, focus on three or four classroom rules at a time. This will make it easier for you to introduce each rule to your class and discuss what they mean. It will also be easier for you to redirect students when they are doing something that doesn’t follow the class rules.
2. Use Broad Rules
One way that you can minimize the number of rules you need is by creating broad rules that can cover a lot of smaller rules. Instead of having a stated rule to walk in the classroom, you could address that behavior and others with a rule about being safe.
3. Phrase Rules with “We Will” Statements
The way you phrase your rules can also make them more effective. Instead of having a list of what looks like commands from the teacher, consider phrasing your classroom rules as “we will statements”. When you review your rules as a class, it becomes like a positive affirmation. It also creates a sense of community, since this phrasing shows that we’re all working on following the classroom rules.
With that in mind, here are some examples of kindergarten rules that I have used in the past:
- We Will Be Kind: This rule includes the way students speak to peers and staff throughout the day.
- We Will Be Responsible: By following this rule, students are keeping track of their belongings, cleaning up after themselves, and doing their work.
- We Will Be Respectful: There is some overlap between being respectful and being kind. However, students are respectful when they raise their hands to speak, wait their turn on the playground, and exhibit behavior that doesn’t distract the people around them.
- We Will Be Safe: This rule covers many of the day-to-day rules about walking in the hallway, using playground equipment appropriately, and so on.
- We Will Try Our Best: This rule can be a helpful addition if you have students who get easily frustrated during daily tasks or students who rush through their work.
4. Use Visual Reminders
Once you’ve decided on the rules you want to implement in your classroom, it’s time for another essential step: Using visuals. Classroom rule posters shouldn’t just be for decoration. Instead, they should be worthwhile visuals that you reference regularly. I like to use actual photos instead of clipart, since this makes it easier for young students to relate to the visual.
When you notice a student who is talking to his neighbor while you’re trying to teach, you could get his attention and point to the visual for “We Will Be Respectful.” This minimizes how much time you have to spend on redirection so you can get back to teaching.
5. Don’t Set and Forget
Like I said above, your posters with class rules shouldn’t just be a fun classroom decoration. Be sure to regularly remind your students of classroom rules and expectations. When you need to address a behavior with a child, remind them how that behavior doesn’t align with the classroom rules. If you find yourself reminding students (or your class) of the same classroom rule over and over, consider if there is a specific behavior within that rule that you could target with positive reinforcement.
Even though the rules are broad, you can always focus on small behaviors as needed with a whole class incentive. For example, if your students are having trouble walking in the hallway, you can address that specific behavior in an attempt to help your students follow the class rule to be safe. For tips on how to do this, check out my blog post about how to improve behavior with whole group rewards.
Printable Kindergarten Classroom Rules Posters
I have created a resource to save you some time as you establish your classroom rules in kindergarten. These printable classroom rules posters can help you support all of your students in meeting your expectations. This set includes ten different rules posters that use “I” or “We” statements along with kid-friendly photos. There are also customizable options so you can adjust the text to fit your classroom or school wording choices.
More Tips for Kindergarten Classroom Rules
Check out this video if you’d like even more tips for classroom rules in kindergarten. You can also take a closer look at my printables for kindergarten classroom rules. If you enjoy these quick video tips for kindergarten teachers, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!
Save These Ideas for Kindergarten Rules
If you’d like to come back to this post later, just save the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest! You’ll be able to quickly find these tips and resources when you’re ready to set up your own classroom rules for kindergarten.