Specify Classroom Rules

Consider this scenario: Teacher A has no rules about physical contact in her room. In fact, teacher A encourages the kids to form close friendships. Teacher A allows kids to hug and hold hands, sit close together on the reading mat, and engage in a bit of roughhousing — as long as no one gets hurt.

The following year, many of the students who were in Teacher A's class have Teacher B. Teacher B does not allow the kids in her class to physically touch each other. She teaches every student to respect the personal space of other children and doesn't allow physical contact. Teacher B believes that this rule helps keep classroom conflict to a minimum. In Teacher B's class, there is no pushing, shoving, roughhousing, no doing the hair of your friend, no holding hands, and no sitting close together.

It is likely that the students who had Teacher A will have a difficult time transitioning into Teacher B's class. Teacher A's students will likely get in trouble for inappropriate physical contact during the first few weeks of school.


Many teachers allow their students to participate in brainstorming the list of classroom rules at the beginning of the school year. Not surprisingly, teachers often find that student-created rules are often stricter than the ones the teacher might impose. This is further evidence that children want and need clear boundaries for classroom behavior.

Every year, your child will be faced with different classroom rules. Is it any wonder your kids are sometimes confused as to what is okay and what is disallowed? It can take a few weeks (or even months) for children to adjust to each teacher's behavioral expectations. This is why researchers have suggested that schools are better off making an effort to specify unified classroom rules.

And those schools that incorporate specific policies usually have fewer problems than schools that allow each teacher to set her own rules. Kids need consistency and they tend to feel safer and more secure in environments where they know both what to expect and what is expected of them.

Uniform classroom rules also make it easier for teachers, school personnel, and administrators to enforce school policies. And parents know exactly what to expect from school year to school year.

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