The Porsche 918 Spyder is the fastest car in production, able to go from to 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.2 seconds — but that’s nothing compared to how quickly a preschool or daycare can go from calm to chaos. No matter how peaceful things may seem at any given moment, you’re always just one argument over a toy away from an outburst that throws all your hard work right out the window.
Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to take control of a preschool classroom. What may have worked for one teacher, child or class may not work for another. That’s why it’s important to discover as many techniques as possible to find whatever will work best in your unique situation.
In this article, we’ll go over 20 tips for keeping a peaceful preschool classroom. Read on and choose which ones you’ll try next in your class!
1. Understand that there is no single solution to everything.
Each child and class is different, and so you will need to find techniques that work well in your particular situation. Stick with your techniques and be consistent, but if it seems like no matter what, one strategy is not doing the trick, don’t be afraid to try something else.
2. Set the tone right from the start.
Have someone calmly and warmly greet each child as they arrive and let them know what to do next, such as put their things away and then sit at the table. Routine helps children understand expectations and can be comforting during transitions.
3. Have a well-balanced schedule.
Planning too many active activities in a row will lead to tiredness and irritability, just as too many calm activities will cause restlessness. Plan your day to match the natural energy levels of your kiddos.
4. Get to the root of a problem.
Putting a child in a time out for outbursts won’t work if this is because other children keep doing something to upset the “problem” child. Investigate what the true source of a problem is to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
5. Don’t wait too long between activities.
Little kids can get very restless. Keep things moving smoothly from one activity to the next, without leaving too much time between where the kiddos feel like they are in limbo. Their pent-up energy needs to come out, and you want to make sure this is during the next scheduled activity. Ideally, each activity will follow the last in an organic way.
6. Stay calm.
Even when things get the most out of hand, the best thing you can do is keep calm. By losing your cool, you are not setting a good example for how the children should be behaving. While this won’t instantly restore order, it will make things return to normal sooner than if you are panicking.
7. Involve the kiddos in maintaining the room’s appearance.
Get their help to make things to decorate or improve the room so they can take pride in their work. If the kids are invested in the room’s appearance, they’ll have more incentive to keep it that way.
8. “Sell” the next activity.
Quietly announcing the next activity will not captivate your audience. An active activity should be the most exciting thing that has ever happened! Getting ready for nap time should be a calming, relaxing experience. Set the tone so the kiddos can follow your lead.
9. No running indoors.
There are lots of ways that running causes chaos, whether it’s injuries or distracting the other children. Often, running happens when a child is not interested in what they are doing, so try directing their energy towards something else. You can also reinforce a rule of running only being for outdoor time, and indoors we just walk.
10. Divide the room into zones.
Have a designated spot for playing, napping, eating, and so on. When the children are in each zone, they will know what behavior is expected of them.
11. Have realistic expectations.
It is important for a child to improve their skills, but there is a limit to what they will be able to do at their age. If children are getting restless during a 30-minute meditation session, you will never be able to keep them focused because the activity is not developmentally appropriate.
12. Don’t treat the correct behavior as a punishment.
If a child is being a disruption during circle time, don’t order them to go back to the circle and play nicely. They will begin to associate this activity with negative or unwanted feelings, which is the opposite of what we want.
Present the desired behavior positively and something to work towards. For example, “I see you need a bit of help playing quietly. Ms. Jennifer is going to come over and help you, isn’t that nice of her? Here she comes!”
13. Hold the problem child accountable.
When a child is acting up, don’t clean up the mess yourself while they go on to repeat their problematic behavior. Have them be a part of the solution. For example, if one child hurt someone, have them get a band-aid to help make it better.
14. Avoid shaming.
Guilt and embarrassment can be overwhelming for a child and can result in even more challenging behavior. Pay attention to what the child does well and regularly praise them for it. The more positive reinforcement they get, they will realize that they much prefer those happy feelings than the bad ones that come from shaming, and will seek those out instead.
15. Divide the kids into smaller groups or pairs.
Having every kiddo in one area while they’re active can get out of hand very quickly. Divide the toddlers into pairs or small groups for play time. It is much easier to keep two kids under control than ten. You will also be able to see which kids become troublemakers when paired up and can then switch things up for next time.
16. Play alongside the children.
The more of a connection you can build with the children, the more they will listen to you. While it is important to maintain your status as the authority of the class, play helps them feel more comfortable with you.
17. Don’t overstimulate.
Preschoolers can only process so much at once. Too many things competing for their attention during free play can quickly get out of hand, so less is always more. Carefully select which toys to take out — perhaps using a theme — and keep directing the children back to those options when early signs of restlessness begin to show.
18. Avoid surprises.
Misbehavior can often be caused by anxiety, and unanticipated new activities that the children were not prepared for can cause outbursts. Prepare the children for what they have to look forward to in the day ahead and stick to that schedule.
19. Keep an eye out for wanderers.
Kids start to wander away from their activity when they are ready to move on. If you see more and more kids starting to do this, then it is likely time to change things up so they can focus on something else.
20. Seek outside help in extreme cases.
If no matter what a particular child just will not control their impulses, you may need to involve the families and possibly a counselor to discover what the problem is and help with a solution.
Have any peaceful classroom tips that weren’t mentioned in this article? Let us know in the comments!