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Classroom Management For Pre-K: Creating A Stress-Free Space

One of the common misconceptions out there is adults think and believe that young children cannot follow procedures.  Especially in the classroom, young children see their teacher as the leader. This is if their teacher establishes him or herself that he or she is the leader of the classroom. Once he or she gets the children’s respect, believe me, they will happily follow everything that they tell them to do.

I am currently teaching pre-K right now. That’s 2.6 – 3.5 year olds. Whenever I tell people that I’m teaching kids that young, first thing that comes to their minds are That must be a jungle!” People always assume that since they are so young, they can’t understand instructions. But they do. They do if you teach them how to do things properly. Children crave structure.  They do if you’re consistent with what your teaching and the “consequences” if they don’t follow. Little kids can be taught to follow procedures. And once they know these procedures,  your classroom is going to be a stress-free space.


The strategy for children to follow procedures is the same for any level. What differs for each level is the time frame of children learning the procedures in school. Like for example, pre-k will take some patience and time for them to grasp a system, while high school understands that there is a system that should be followed right on the first day of school.

  • Establish a routine right on the first week of school

Right when they enter the classroom, greet them a good morning and ask them to put their bags in their cubbyholes or in the bags corner. Before recess, have them line up to go to the nearest sink to wash hands. Children will surely recognize and understand that these simple steps are to be done everyday at a specific sequence.

  • Have a daily schedule

Having a daily schedule is a must in every classroom. Children are more comfortable knowing what’s going to happen next. They like to expect. They want to be assured that after this, this, and this happen, they will be fetched by their parents or they will now ride the bus home. The children gets assurance, and they will be more likely to trust the teacher more.

  • Consistency is key

Being consistent with the routines, daily schedules, and also the consequences for misbehavior definitely yield positive results. Familiarity, trust, and respect are formed between the teacher and the students. Once these are built and intact, you will see the difference of the behavior of your students from the first day of class because now they know what to do and what to expect. They can now do things and calm down on their own, and listen and follow your directions.

Creating a stress-free space in the classroom is not impossible even when you’re managing a classroom of 2-3 year olds. It just takes time and patience through being consistent.


Classroom Management: Special Needs Students

Children with special needs don’t fall in just a general category of simply “Children with special needs”. There are different kinds of disabilities under the umbrella of “special needs”. There is the autism spectrum, speech and language delays, ADHD, severe behaviour issues, and physical and developmental handicaps. But managing a special education classroom and the array of special needs in the classroom, doesn’t have to be hard and stressful. There’s a secret to successfully creating a stress-free and top notch educational classroom for children with special needs.


The need for structure and a supportive and caring team of adults.

The secret to managing a special education classroom is to have a lot structure and a daily routine. More than any other group, no matter what grade level, children with special needs need to have a classroom structure and routine. Daily reinforcement of the structure creates a positive and caring atmosphere and an environment where the students will feel safe. Children, especially special needs students like predictability. The teacher should be consistent with implementing the daily structure in order to take out confusion from the children.

440672445_aed43eae73_oA team of teachers and aides who know how to handle and effectively connect with students with special needs is also needed for successfully managing a stress-free classroom. One teacher cannot handle a classroom of 10. He or she needs a teacher assistant, and depending on the IEP, if needed, therapists. Children would want to go to school if they know that the people who are taking care of  them are able and treat them with care and respect. Patience and a kind heart is key to working in this type of classroom.

A structure that is consistently implemented and a team who loves what they’re doing are the two secrets to creating a stress-free classroom for children with special needs. These two will help unleash the potential in every student.


Your First and Last 2 Minutes

For about a year now, I have been practicing this method I call “First 2, Last 2” in my classes. This method pertains to relationship building for the first 2 minutes and the last 2 minutes of each class period. The first and last 2 minutes of each class, I intentionally set some time aside to connect with students. I feel that in this way, the class is more relaxed and easy to control.


As teachers,some of us prepare the materials that we will use that day before the class. This causes us to be busy in between periods. As the students enter, we scramble our things, we write stuff on the board, and so on. We barely notice the students coming inside the classroom.

After the bell rings, that’s just when we call their attention for attendance. After the roll call, we proceed to our lesson for the day–because we have limited time and we have so much yet to cover. This creates a disconnect between the teacher and the students as the year goes by, that has potential to alienate us from our students.

To combat this, I’ve been practicing “First 2, Last 2” as a relationship builder. As students enter the classroom, I make it a point to be ready with everything I need for that day so I could greet each and every one of them good morning. Most of them smile back, say good morning, yet there are still some students who completely ignore me. That’s ok. At least they can see that you’re always in a good mood before the class starts!


As soon as the bell stops ringing, is the “First 2”. I’m not really strict at imposing 2 minutes, sometimes it lasts longer. But of course, I have to control the connection. It cannot last longer than 5 mins, because I still need precious time for the lesson! Anyway, for the first 2 minutes, I talk to the whole class. Sometimes I single out a student like for example, when he or she has been gone a long time, I welcome him or her back. Sometimes I tell a short story about something interesting I saw on the Internet. Sometimes I mention something going on around the school like a school play or a sporting event, and encourage them to participate. Sometimes I ask about the latest movies and trends. I just say something that they can relate to, for them to see that I can also be their friend. But of course, there are still boundaries, and you have to set this. A good classroom manager can draw a fine line between friend and teacher.


For the “Last 2” or last 2 minutes of the class period, I make an effort not to give out last-minute instructions. I don’t really like parting ways with my students with shouting reminders on which pages to read. I like to end the class neat and relaxed. Instead of last minute reminders, I chat with them, joke around and laugh, and wish them a good day ahead. A good classroom manager can manage his or her time well.

Allocating the first 2 and last 2 minutes to your students pays off because the students feel respected, understood, and confident when their teacher notices them. They feel comfortable in class as they know that their teacher cares for them and what they do. This will result more toward positive social and learning behaviors.

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