Creating Classroom Rules
Continuing the series on discipleship & classroom discipline, this post is about creating classroom rules.
With expectations and consequences defined, it is time for each teacher to create some rules specific to their own classroom. Rather than having one set of rules for the entire Sunday School, set specific rules for each classroom. This allows for age-appropriateness and the chance to revisit the rules each year with each new class.
For example, the rules for a preschool class will look very different from the rules for an older elementary class. My husband and I have taught Sunday School for many years. I teach in a preschool class and he teaches in a Gr. 4-6 class. Here are our classroom rules from last year:
Preschool Class Rules (Ages 4&5)
In our class we:
- Listen to our teachers and obey them
- Treat each other kindly
- Raise our hands if we have a question
- Do all activities together
Grades 4-6 Class Rules
- Put up your hand to ask questions
- Participate and have fun
- No asking “When are we playing games?”
- Use the bathroom during activities; no bathroom breaks allowed during lesson
Here are some guidelines for creating classroom rules:
For Preschool Classes (ages 2-5)
- Teachers should decide on the classroom rules before the first class of the year.
- For 2 &3 year olds use no more than 3 rules and for 4&5 year olds use no more than 4 rules
- Rules should be stated in a positive manner. In other words, tell the kids what you want them to do. (ex. Treat each other kindly instead of No hitting.)
- Create a classroom rules poster and use pictures to demonstrate the rules. Children this age can’t read but they can understand a picture. The picture is a memory aid for them to remember the rule.
- Put the poster up in the classroom and go over the rules every week in class. After a few weeks, the children will be able to say the rules when the teacher points at the appropriate picture.
- Here are some examples of how to show classroom rules in pictures:
- Obey your teachers – use a picture of an adult or an adult with a group of preschool age children
- Treat each other kindly – use a picture of 2 children holding hands or children playing together
- As well as going over the rules every week, the teacher should also remind the children of the consequences of breaking the rules. Children this age feel safe when they know their boundaries and when they know the routine and what to expect. I talked more about consequences in the last post “Uh oh! Consequences for Inappropriate Behavior.”
For Elementary Classes (Grades 1-6
- Teachers should allow time in the first Sunday School class of the year to decide on class rules. Tell your students that rules will be decided as a class. Together talk about how everyone should behave in this classroom. The teacher has ultimate veto. Sometimes suggested rules will be silly or unachievable.
- Once the rules have been decided make a poster of your class rules. This poster should be put up in a highly visible spot in the classroom and referred to regularly.
- As a class, consequences for disobeying the rules can be discusses as well. Consequences need to be in line with consequences already decided by the Sunday School teachers as a whole or the Sunday School Coordinator. I have found that kids can be much harsher in deciding consequences than teachers are. So guide this conversation carefully and remind the kids that the ultimate goal is growing as disciples of Jesus.
For all ages, children need to know and understand the rules. This is why it is important to post the rules in the classrooms and discuss them each week. Allow children to ask questions about the rules. It is important to make sure that your children understand the rules. Figure out ways of restating them to help the kids understand them.