Practicing classroom procedures is better than doling out punishment. Often, what a teacher or parent refers to as a rule is really a procedure. For proof of this, we need look no further than to one of the first rules primary students are given. They are taught the classroom rule of raising one’s hand to be recognized by the teacher before speaking out.
The same rule is taught year after year. I have even seen this rule posted in eighth-grade classrooms! Simply reminding students that this is a classroom procedure, rather than a rule, places the teacher in the position of a coach and eliminates an enforcement mentality.
We too often assume that children know what we know and what we would like them to do. This assumption is faulty. Teach classroom procedures, such as how to enter the classroom, how to use an activity center, how to distribute supplies, or anything else that requires a mode of operation. The same applies to the home. Some home procedures could include how to empty the dishwasher, how to sort laundry, how to hang coats up before leaving the foyer, etc. A successful classroom (and home) has routines and procedures, which give organization and structure.
If you think about it, you will realize that we run our lives on procedures. From the moment we wake up to the time we go to bed, we are following various procedures from how to cook, to how to drive, to how to interact with others, to so much more.
Especially with youngsters who have poor impulse control or act randomly and spontaneously, having structure in the form of procedures can be of great assistance to them—as well as to the teacher and parent. Each time your child does something you are dissatisfied with—or does not do something you expect of your youngster—ask yourself, “Does the child have a procedure?” In fact, anytime a child does anything that bothers you, this should be the first question to ask yourself.
Ultimately, practicing procedures is discipline training to do the right behavior in order to be better at it. Some children need more refined, repeated procedures to help them with self-discipline. Do it. Teach procedures for as long as it takes. This is the part that takes real stamina.
What classroom procedures (and home procedures) do you regularly teach youth? Please share your ideas on the Without Stress Facebook page.