Have you ever noticed that it feels like an elementary school building has a plethora of rules, procedures and expectations for its students? Have you ever wondered why? The answer is simple: we are building responsible, productive citizens.
Our world is filled with many rules. There seems to be a rule for every aspect of our adult life. What better way to teach children about rules then by allowing them to experience them first hand? It is true that there are rules for walking through the building, when to wash hands, and even playing outside on the playground. Rules teach children that there are boundaries and things operate so much more efficiently when rules are followed. Rules keep us safe and once integrated into the daily school routine, are not difficult to respect. If rules are established at home, the transition to understanding why we need them at school is smooth.
Procedures, which are different from rules, help young children successfully follow rules. Procedures are the steps taken to follow a rule. Steps to follow a rule must be sequentially taught to children. It will more than likely take several times running through procedures for children to assimilate them into good rule following. Following through with daily practice at school is a great way to get children familiar with this practice. Less time is needed for children to figure out why procedures are helpful when they are established and utilized at home.
Communicating clear and reasonable expectations to children provides the framework needed for rules and procedures to feel natural and uncomplicated. Everybody has expectations. Although our expectations change from childhood to adulthood, recognizing expectations as they apply to a rule or procedure allow children to connect reaching an expectation with good behavior. This needs to happen at home so the stage is set for school.
We have rules, procedures, and expectations in place to give children a chance to practice what they will be living later. Parents and educators have the opportunity to help children understand now why we have rules, procedures, and expectations. Productive citizens grow into productive adults.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.