Parents and teachers often use guidelines instead of directing behavior. “Be nice to your little sister” does not provide the specifics of behavior that a parent wants in the moment. “Do not pull on her arms” is clear and direct. ‘Put your dirty dishes in the sink/dishwasher” is more direct than clean up after you eat. Likewise, ‘Be kind to your classmates’ is not as clear as ‘When someone is speaking you need to be quiet and listen.’
The guidelines we would like our families and classrooms to live by should be given as much consideration as we give to where we want to go on vacation or how we want our classroom to physically look. Families and classes will both benefit when the important work of establishing how we ‘live’ together is a priority.
Establishing family and classroom guidelines, such as generosity, patience, understanding, responsibility , etc. allows for the establishment of important rules. The more we can involve all parties (adults and children) in the process the better our outcomes.
Deciding that as a family we will be generous is terrific. What makes this a strong commitment and paints the picture of generosity is the discussion of the why and what generosity will look like. As a family, we are generous because we have a lot to share or because people have been very generous to us.
When you establish the why with the group, you create the opportunity to continue to grow and expand behaviors that demonstrate the expectations as your family or classroom matures.
Teachers have an even bigger challenge and obligation to have these setting conversations with their classes. Classroom ‘rules’ that are presented as guidelines are not specific enough for children to follow. Each child brings with them a unique frame of reference from their own homes. How a child interprets the guideline of responsibility is a reflection of their home life. We can not assume the statements: Be Kind, Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Careful look, sound or feel the same to all of our students.
Linking classroom expectations and rules to academic and social success reinforce school behavior while not bringing it into conflict with home rules. We show kindness by waiting our turn to answer so that everyone gets the opportunity to tell us what they have learned or need in order to learn. It is what we do here to help everyone to be successful.
Taking the time to establish guidelines and rules together supports the belief that what we do and how we do it is a good thing for everyone. Take that time.
Have a question about establishing expectations and rules? Reach out today!