Classroom/Behavior Management tips
School is starting soon, so I thought I would share a little from my days as a teacher. As you know, many of my thoughts have ministry applications, and this one is no different. Whether you are a classroom teacher, a home school teacher, a Sunday School teacher, kids ministry leader, or even a parent, this may be something that can help. When I was teaching there was something we called ‘classroom management’. I know that you may be in a small group/classroom setting, or you may be in a large group setting, but either way, the principles are the same.
Classroom management (sometimes behavior management) is something that I learned over several years of trial and error. It was a skill that I often make use of in parenting and also in a ministry setting. A key to remember is the more you are able to identify and reinforce positive behavior, the less you need to try to discourage negative behavior. Most of the time the kids will want to imitate the positive behavior you are rewarding, because they like the reward and affirmation.
In ministry settings I have often divided the group into 2 teams, usually boys against girls. This may or may not work in your setting, and if it doesn’t you still should be able to find a way to adapt these ideas.
This is large felt board with large felt circles. On the back of the circles are various point values. When you want to reinforce a positive behavior you can allow the child to choose a circle. Add the points to that team’s total. On the back of two circles put a ZONK, which means no points are awarded. (see the photo)
Get a jumbo size deck of playing cards. When you want to reinforce positive behavior allow a child to choose a card. Cards are worth face value, face cards are 1000pts, aces can be 1500 or 100 (you can choose). You can mix things up a little more by keeping the jokers in, which would add 0 pts, similar to the ZONK in the above example.
Get a large set of dice(or make your own set ). Allow a child to roll when they display a behavior you want to encourage. Whatever the value rolled is how many hundred points their team gets.
Get a roll of double carnival tickets. This works well if you don’t want to have teams.
Give one away and keep one with a matching number. Every child gets a ticket upon arrival. Through the morning you can award extra tickets for any behavior you would like to encourage. At the end, be sure to leave time to draw out winning tickets. The child with the corresponding ticket gets a prize.
Take a stack of empty envelopes and number them on the front 1-15. Place a random point value in each envelope.(we used between 100 and 1000). Allow a child to choose an envelope when they display a behavior you want to encourage. Add the points to the team total.
When my daughter was younger we had a jar we filled with little puff balls, which she called happy clown noses (not sure where that came from, but that is what she called them). When she was being a good listener, we gave her a ball to put in her jar. Lots of people use marbles. Once the jar was full, she earned a reward. That could come in the form of a prize, toy, candy bar, or whatever else you choose. Reward the positive behavior with a marble or ball. If you wanted to you could also remove marbles or balls based on behavior you want to discourage.
Some behaviors we often reward are listening, participating, singing, and answering questions, sitting quietly. Or you can choose whatever other behavior you would like from the group.
It is amazing how many kids will sing a song for a chance to pick a card, or how many will sit quietly and pay attention if they have a chance to roll dice. The team with the most points at the end of the morning will win a small prize—candy, silly bands, bouncy balls, stickers, ect. Sometimes we allow the winning team 2 pieces of candy, and the losing team 1 piece.
Behavior management is something we all deal with. This is just a short list of to add to your bag of tricks. Again, these are just a few ideas to help get you started. They can be easily adapted depending on your setting or the size of your group. Even if you never use any of these ideas, hopefully they will spark your creativity and help you come up with your own version of ‘classroom management’.
What kind of tips or tricks would you share? How do you deal with behavior management? Do you reward positive behavior? I’d love to hear what you think and what you do.