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November 3, 2014

“Be Safe, Be Kind” – The Only Rules Your Classroom Needs

Johnny really wanted to bring an extra basket of toys to the block center. Whenever he did so, his teacher would take it away, put it back on the shelf, and remind him that he could only play with one toy at a time. Johnny could not understanding why he could not bring the toys to the block center. All he really wanted to do was create something amazing! Johnny’s development was being hindered by arbitrary rules.10685458_401094693371287_1447869789805147976_n

Children are naturally curious. In the classroom, it is our responsibility to ensure that little ones are provided with the safe and secure environment in which they can readily explore. By implementing too many rules and restrictions, we can unintentionally stop children from reaching their full potential. The child that is bringing extra toys to the block center may be creating something new and exciting! Unless we allow him the opportunity to do so, we will never know – and he will never know what he is truly capable of.

Teachers tend to impose too many rules on their children. While in the classroom, it is important to remember one thing: it is our job and priority to make sure that the children in our care are safe and happy, as they develop the empathy and kindness that the world needs. With that in mind, the only two rules that any classroom ever needs are “Be Safe.” and “Be Kind.” When you use these two guidelines throughout your day, it helps create a pleasant learning environment and helps you guide the interactions with your students. Rather than imposing rules, we need to be working with our children to solve problems:

“When you are standing on a chair, are you being safe? What can happen if you fall off of the chair?”

“How do you think it made your friend feel when you took her toy? Do you think it was kind?”

When we teach our little ones that it is important to be safe and to promote kindness, everything else will fall into place.

Be safe. Be kind. You’re changing the world, one classroom at at time.

  1. Punishment vs. Logical Consequences https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/article/punishment-vs-logical-consequences
  1. Rules Talk https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/article/rules-talk
  1. Who Makes the Rules in the Classroom? http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teacher_in_a_strange_land/2012/08/who_makes_the_rules_in_a_classroom_seven_ideas_about_rule-making.html

Contributed by Toni LaMantia, Education Specialist