Bradford Tioga Head Start staff know that during the first weeks of school, it is important to teach routine and school rules to the young children in their care. This is a difficult task. In addition to establishing the rules teachers also need to make the children feel welcome and safe. One way to do both is to give the children the opportunity to develop the rules. This helps them gain ownership and be more apt to follow these simple rules.
At the beginning of the work year, Bradford Tioga Head Start teachers, teacher aides, and family advocates received training on developing long term classroom goals and setting expectations for the children. The trainer explained the importance of picking specific expectations and listing rules or guidelines under each expectation. At the Athens 2 classroom, that is exactly what they did.
"We chose to be respectful, be safe and be responsible," said Teacher Tessa Kirk. "We discussed what each expectation meant and the children developed rules. The rules were then printed with pictures of the children following each rule, and then posted in the classroom for all to see. In addition to that, the families were sent a letter explaining the rules that their children wrote."
Pictured, from left, are Justin Shoultes, Jozlyn Wise, April Miller, Janaya Henrich, and Summer Ackley showing how by standing in line they are following the rules.
Encouraging children to participate in this activity promotes being part of a larger community and teamwork. It promotes self esteem and ownership. When a young child feels ownership in their environment, it gives them a sense of control of their own learning and motivates additional substantial learning gains.
This activity also encourages children to think at a higher cognitive level. They are able to brainstorm what is right and wrong for them in the classroom. And in turn, that helps prepare the children for experiences outside the classroom; giving them the skills they need to be valuable members of the team of life.
Bradford-Tioga Head Start is a program that offers state and federally funded programs for pregnant mothers, families and their children, newborn up to the age of five; This includes Early Head Start, Head Start and Pre-K Counts services.
For more information call 800-808-5287, Ext. 400, or visit www.bradford tiogahs.org.