Creating policy in a pre-school classroom

Molly, self-portrait, 3 years, Dublin Montessori Academy

(Establishing guidelines or limits with children is an introductory lesson in kindness and an experiment in creating classroom policy. Limits are easier to create than implement. I'm learning that the best way to move this theory-type talk to practice is to include the children in establishing these early life policies. Post written, June 2012)

During morning circle, I begin by asking what things we can do in our classroom and at school to take care of ourselves and others, and then as their ideas come forth, I ask them to wait so I can get a pencil and paper to write them on paper.

"Let's make a list of the things we each can do to care for ourselves, our friends, and our classroom. Then we can tape it to the wall to help us remember when we forget." 

I write using the words of the contributor. Both kids and adults contribute to the list. We say what we can do to support kindness and safety rather than use words like "no" or "don't."

Here is what was on our list at the beginning of the year.


When you cough or sneeze, catch it in your hands and wash your hands with soap and water so the germs go down with the bubbles.

Be quiet around the animals because they have sensitive ears.

Be friendly.

Everything that comes out of your bottom goes into the toilet. If some misses and goes on the floor, clean it up with toilet paper.

Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.

f grass is under feet, run.

Walk on the blacktop.

Be quiet when sitting on circle.

Hands in lap so no one steps on them.

Be nice to friends.

Look someone in the eye and ask his name. Then shake his hand and have another friend.

Sit down and wait for your turn for the bike.

Walk up to someone and then talk.

When you take work off the shelf, take a picture in your brain so you can put it back.

Put away your work before taking more.

Take the necklace off the door knob and put it on before going into the bathroom.

If you see the necklace not on the bathroom door, wait until the person comes out because of privacy. 
Before hanging the list, I invite a vote of agreement to practice them. It's unanimous. The limits are hung on the wall at a child's eye level. We add to the list when we discover other ways to be kinder to ourselves and others.