Established Routines Reduce Discipline Problems

How you structure an activity or arrange the environment can significantly reduce discipline problems with children.

In the elementary grades, this pertains to both indoor and outdoor activities. For example, establishing a “getting drinks” routine after vigorous playground activities is an example of an outdoor procedure. Children whose last names are in the first half of the alphabet will use the fountain by the restrooms. Those in the last half will walk to another designated drinking fountain. The person behind the drinker will slowly count to ten and then tap the drinker softly on the shoulder. Before initiating the procedure, have students experience it. Line up everyone for a dry run.

Another routine to curb discipline issues is to have a routine for lining up before entering the room at the start of the day. One teacher reminds her students that when they enter to put their backpacks away, sharpen pencils, place home assignments and lunch money on the desk, and begin their proofreading. Another does not allow students to bend her ear as they enter the classroom at the beginning of the school day, or after recess, or after lunch. Rather, she carefully watches how students enter and watches to see them start immediately on the assignment on the board or overhead projector. Then, once all are on task, she gives her attention to those who need it.

Professional judgment is required at all times to bring about optimal behavior and reduce discipline problems. In the morning, it may be preferable to have students enter the room and start working immediately. After lunch or a morning break, allowing the students time to settle down may be more practical.

Finally, remember that with any new activity, such as a special game or a chance to touch a visiting pet, conflicts will occur—unless some management procedures have been established first.