Classroom management for young learners

Classroom management for young learners

Managing your classroom whether it is online or offline is not an easy task. It’s one thing to teach adults but a whole other ball game when it comes to children and young learners. Today we are going to discuss classroom management techniques. To put it bluntly, rules and routines for young learners.

Would you be surprised if I told you that “classroom management” extends beyond the classroom and is used at home too? Yes, that’s right. Classroom management or rules and routines, in fact, is discipline. In my experience, I learned that every culture is different. Sometimes you have to tweak your style according to the culture of the student. Is the student Chinese/Asian? Or is your student Eastern European? These are things to consider. For example, in the Chinese culture is it fine and appropriate to smack a desk for attention, to be extremely strict. Teachers are viewed as authority and not friends. It is normal for kids to be shy of their teachers because of these strict rules and way of teaching.

Classroom management can be tricky and somewhat daunting. At least for me. I have learned that anticipating “bad” behavior is the key to managing. Have a plan for when XYZ happens!

Establish a routine

Each class should start the same. You can not deviate from this. Find an audio or visual cue that informs the student that the class is about to start. This might be a “welcome hello song” or a certain chime. Maybe even clap your hands! Say a specific sentence. Keep it short sweet and simple and remember to start each class in the same manner.

Why? The student will know it is time to focus and study. He or she will be mentally ready and able. But Hanna, what do we do if we have a very busy learner, he moves around a lot and takes time to settle into class? The simple answer is, routine! If you see your student is not ready, sit quietly and wait. I usually ask: “are you ready?” and wait. I will ask again: “are you ready?”. The student then hears the repeated word: “ready” and will then settle. The next line is: “hello, how are you today?”. For me, this works.

Some students might need a song or a chime as their cue to settle down and focus.

Should you be teaching a group and one or two students are ready while the others are not you can use these well behaved and focused students as your “cue.” You could say: “thank you, Natalia, for being ready” or “ Oh, look at Natalia and Sergey! They are ready!” Another one of my favorites is: “ 1, 2, 3, Eyes on me! Are you ready?!” This works well with very young learners.

Here are the examples of good hello and goodbye songs:

Watch this video on YouTube.
Watch this video on YouTube.
Watch this video on YouTube.
Watch this video on YouTube.

Giving instructions

This is where TPR and visual cues come in. When you give your students instructions such as reading, use the same visual cues. You can not change these cues as it will create confusion and the student will not understand what you require from them. If you use the same instructional methods your class should flow without a hickup. It’s important to do research and find what kind of TPR and cues or instructions work for you. They have to be clear and concise. Preferably a smooth one-handed motion. If you prefer not to use your hands for instructions, you may always consider images. You can display an image with the instruction. Want your student to read? A picture of a child reading should do the trick along with verbal instruction.

Setting time limits

Some kids get very excited, and this is great! I rather enjoy it when my learners are happy and enjoying the lesson. However, it can be tricky to move on to the next part of the lesson. You should absolutely set a time limit for each section or activity. Every lesson has an outcome and objective. Should you not set time limits you will end up doing only the parts of the lesson the student enjoys and no real learning takes place. When you set time limits in your classroom, you are in control. When you give a student free reign for activities, they will find it easy to manipulate you and mold the lesson into what they want and not necessarily into what the objectives are. If you set time limits for every lesson, you will have established a routine and created discipline. Your students along with their parents will know what to expect at each lesson, and thus you can also prepare and anticipate disruptions. Your students will become aware of the time constraint and how important it is thus creating self-discipline which is a fantastic skill to learn at a young age.

To set the time limit, use a timer on your phone or a call bell, make the sound louder so that everyone knows that time is over.

Yes, rewards may help manage your classroom. It has worked on my very busy students. It kept them in check and motivated them to learn and do better. I use a glass jar with marbles ( I hate the sound ), but my students love it. This is another way you can “control” your students’ behavior especially if they get bored quickly or in general are very busy kids. It’s important to follow through on your reward system. The reason I use the glass jar with marbles merely is for the sound it makes. Yes, the noise! The student associates the sound with progress. They feel like they have accomplished something and will want more of it. This leads to further motivation from the student and progress meaning you should reach your learning outcomes.   

Basically, classroom management is not only for us teachers but also for the students. There will always be two goals. For the student to reach the learning outcomes and objectives of every lesson and for the lesson to go smoothly without disruption and bad behavior.

To wrap up, classroom management, rules, and routines are simple. It really is.

⭐ Keep your rules and cues as simple as possible.

⭐ Your students should know when it’s time for class. Anticipate bad or disruptive behavior and have your strategy ready to be implemented when the time calls for it. Find what works for you and your student.

⭐ Always open and close your lessons in the same manner; this will let your student know its time to focus and work.

⭐ Use rewards to keep the student focused and motivated and stick to your time limits. Don’t get trapped in the “this is so much fun for student”, you have a learning outcome to reach!

⭐ Your instructions should be short sweet and simple. Consider how you will use it. Will it be TPR? Audio or visual cues? Never deviate from these and do not change them frequently.

Keep in mind that when teaching groups it is essential to discipline appropriately. What is the goal of discipline? It is never to disrupt your class, ever! Your class should flow naturally and progress. Anticipate specific behavior and be ready for how to deal with and address it correctly and efficiently. Remember that no two students are the same and that sometimes you will have to make a tweak here and there to get and keep the attention of your student.

You can do this!
That’s it from me! Happy teaching!