Classroom Management & Household Management: A Positive Environment

In this series, I hope to describe ways that the classroom is not unlike the home, and how treating it similarly has helped me not lose my mind completely.  But I wouldn’t mind your help! If you have a question on how to run your “home room” with more structure, suggestions on how you do the same, or just an observation, feel free to leave a note for me in the comments!

Children cannot thrive in fear or uncertainty, and they definitely can’t productively learn in a classroom that does not provide a safe, positive environment. Of course, the same goes for the home environment, and the caretaker’s environment. As a nanny, my goal for the children is not primarily educational (although that comes with it), but rather it is that they have a balanced, relaxed, and fulfilling day. For wee ones, that involves safe playtime, sleep, food, love, and plenty of each.  They know that I will be fair with them, and if I make a rule (or, let’s be honest, proclamation), or dole out a punishment that doesn’t seem fair, they all know that I will talk with them about it after that time-out is over. They will get to say their piece if they need to. I’ve had to apologize for unfair time outs before, after all the tears and shouting were over.   

I make sure I tell them I love them, or at least show it, on a daily basis, even if they were hellions. I believe there is no such thing as a bad child, just bad behavior or days, and I think the kids can feel that.  (Ok, a child can be really ‘bad’ if they have a poor upbringing – this is how we get juvenile delinquents and criminals. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with that! Anymore, that is…) They know what I expect out of them, and if I find them straying from that expectation, they’ll know about it soon enough, usually through a verbal warning before anything else.

My expectations of them also have to be age appropriate.  I feel like people forget the abilities of children at different ages; not that they expect too much of them, but that they expect too little (and don’t even get me started on the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality). Within reason, if you hold children to high standards, and are fair and rational about it, they will usually meet those expectations in a home-like setting. In the classroom, you have other factors influencing that child more than the expectations of the teacher; classmates, parents, internal conflict trying to reconcile all these standards, etc.

Let me give you an example. At lunchtime, we all sit down to eat at the same time. The children are not allowed to get up from their seats until they are dismissed.  The two year old is old enough to sit down without being strapped down. Nearly every lunchtime he has to be reminded of that, but for the most part, he sits until he’s finished eating– he’s supposed to wait till I wipe him down. But my point is, he’s able to sit without needing strapped in. Throughout the day I find myself saying things like, “You’re sister is too little to understand what sharing is yet. Can you show her by waiting your turn with the toy and letting her have it first?” and “You’re the big sister, I expect you to not get so upset when your little brother calls you made up names. He’s just trying to irritate you because he missed you all day.” But in doing so, I hope to direct the children’s attention to why others are behaving the way they are, and to respond appropriately. I, myself, try to model that behavior of understanding as well. Ok, let’s be honest, I try to say and do those things. Sometimes it comes out not so nicely, or I’ve said it several times that day and I’m DONE.

My sincerest hope is that the children find my home warm and inviting, and that they don’t dread coming here. I could have all the toys and cookies in the world, but if my home wasn’t loving and positive, they would not want to be here. And when the baby leaps into my arms in the morning when she shows up, I think, “Mission Accomplished.”

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