Let’s talk about reasonable expectations and how to let kids know what is expected of them.
It’s important for teachers to remember that children need to be taught how to behave in the classroom. They will not automatically know. So talk with your students about what you expect during class. This is important for all ages, but especially young children who do not yet attend school and therefore do not have experience to draw on.
First, ensure that your classroom expectations are reasonable.
Here you need to consider the age and developmental stage of your students.
5 years olds do not have the attention span to sit still through a 30 minute story. It would be an unreasonable expectation. However, 5 year olds can sit for a 10-15 minute story that is engaging, age-appropriate, and interactive.
If you are not sure what your students can do developmentally, there are lots of resources out there that will give you good information about age-level characteristics.
Second, tell your kids what is expected of them for general classroom behavior and for specific classroom situations.
General classroom behavior includes how students should address you, knowing the rules and that students are expected to follow them, how students should treat you and each other.
But it is also important to let students know what your expectations are in specific situations. For example, if a student has a question at any time, they should raise their hand and wait for you to call on them.
Specific situations include story or lesson time, application time, games and activity time, craft time, group projects, dismissal time.
Here are some examples of reasonable expectations:
“Any questions asked will be about the lesson topic.”
“If you have a question, raise your hand and wait for me to call on you.”
“I expect everyone to participate during lesson time.”
“After playtime, I expect everyone to help clean up.”
“Before we eat snack, everyone washes their hands.”
“During application time, we will respect what each other has to say.”
Rules and expectations are similar. Rules should be clearly stated, ideally posted, and repeated often. The expectation, then, would be that students will obey the rules.
Not all expectations are directly related to rules however. Some expectations are about how we handle snack time or bathroom breaks. They are more about how things are done in this classroom.
Don’t make the assumption that children will know how to behave or participate in your classroom. Let your kids know what your expectations are. And then watch them rise to the challenge!