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, when 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Make It into a Game
It's much easier for students to follow your directions when you make the directions fun. Rather than simply moving them from the snack table to the other side of the room for free play, put on some music and encourage students to get up from the table to dance with you for several minutes before beginning to play. Have a race to see how many of them can put on their coats in the time it takes you to count to 20. Whenever you find students are struggling with a certain set of instructions or acting up at a specific time of the day, try to inject a bit of fun into the situation.
Giving Classroom Jobs
Giving out jobs to students is a great way to teach them responsibility, and it can also help you manage the classroom effectively. For example, if you appoint one student as the "line leader" and another as the "caboose," they can assist in encouraging their classmates to line up between them. If you have one or several "snack servers," you'll be free to watch the rest of the class while the snack is being handed out--or at least while plates and cups are being handed out, if your students are too young to hand out the snack. You can also appoint one student as "teacher's helper," and this student can deliver messages to the office or to other teachers as needed.
Set a Routine
Routines offer children not only a sense of stability, but also help give children the feeling of confidence and caring from an adult. To better manage your preschool classroom, set a routine and implement it daily. From naps to play time to restroom breaks to snacks, lead the preschool children in these activities at the same time every day. Follow a routine based on the needs of the children, and try not to rush through activities for the sole purpose of staying on schedule,.
Set a Schedule
In a preschool classroom, having a set schedule can make all the difference between an unruly group of students and a content class. When students have the security of knowing the general progression of events in the classroom each day, it allows them to relax. A set schedule can also help students who have difficulty with transitions, because they can anticipate when a transition is coming and prepare themselves mentally for it. Although your schedule should stay relatively regular from day to day, there can be some flexibility in the schedule without undermining its helpfulness in classroom management.