Can We Do Whatever We Want?: Exploring Classroom Rules

Friday, 6 October 2017




On the first day that I met my new group of kindergartners, I asked, "What do you want to know about kindergarten?"  There were a lot of questions about the bus, as this was kindergarten orientation and they would soon be given a bus ride.

One boy asked, "Can we do whatever we want?"  I thought this might be a good question for us to explore in our first weeks together.



I asked the children to answer the question using, "yes, because" or "no, because" and I recorded their responses.  All of their answers fell into 4 categories that framed our research from that point on:

No, because we might get hurt or sick.
No, because our school might get broken or messy.
No, because we are still learning from right and wrong.
Yes, because we sometimes have safe choices.

We brought in some "experts" to give us their answers.  I invited our school principal, social worker, nurse and custodian and we interviewed them.  We asked two questions:

What kind of work do you do at our school?

Can we do whatever we want in school?

Our School Social Worker,  Mr. Seltzer

All the adults gave a different response and helped us explore new ways of understanding the need for rules.

Our school custodian explained that there are different rules for different places such as the playground vs. the classroom and what you can do in one place you may not be able to do in another.

Our school social worker, answered the question very succinctly, No, because other people matter.
(the Positivity Project motto).

Following that, we explored books with characters who did whatever they wanted.




The word "naughty" came up a lot in our conversations, so we talked about what that really meant and decided that it might mean that you know the rules, but do not follow them.


This book was super helpful in showing us how to think beyond ourselves.



As well as this song:


And now I find myself using the phrase with the children: "What if everybody gave me their jacket to hold on the playground?"  The children think it is funny, but they totally get it!

As we began to see the need for rules, I asked the children to name a rule that would be important in school.

"Don't come to school naked" was definitely influenced by their favorite page in the David books!



I then sorted their rules into these three categories:

We take good care of ourselves.
We take good care of others.
We take good care of our learning space.

These became our class promises that we recite at the beginning of each day.  More importantly, it's used in our interactions with one another.



Just this week, a little boy was cleaning up some water he spilled.  I asked what he was doing and he said, "I'm taking good care of our learning space!"

Always a joy to hear them use the language!

Thanks for stopping by!

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