I was recently asked by a colleague to suggest ideas for rules that should be posted in the preschool classroom. I had to pause because I realized that I have never actually had a set of rules written out and posted on my classroom wall.

Preschool age children are still developing their sense of right and wrong in almost every action they take. They are testing limits, exploring their environment, and discovering how to get along with others. Preschool age children are cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically developing their sense of right and wrong in just about every thing they do. It is when developmental understanding is present that young children are now ready to live by a set of formal classroom rules that come with consequences.

While preschoolers learn the boundaries of their behavior towards others and towards their environment, the teacher can best participate by consistently and patiently communicate teacher expectations (the rules) and then consistently guide children towards making positive choices.

IF I were to design a set of rules for the preschool classroom, I would focus on only 3 to 5 major rules that the preschoolers would be able to understand and successfully apply. In addition I would…

Emphasize the action I want rather than the action I don’t want!

I do think that preschool age children need clear expectations defined for them so they will understand their limits and boundaries but in my experience, the best approach is to not depend on a set of rules but rather make your expectations a part of your teaching process as you consistently provide guidance and redirection.  For more on this topic, see this article I wrote titled Teaching Children Expectations!