Classroom Management Tips

back to Fish Cove home

Here, you will find our schedule, rules, jobs, classroom responsibilities, important how to’s and more!

Our Schedule:


     drop-off, free exploration/conversation/observation


    Clean up, hand-washing, breakfast


    Morning meeting


    Invitation exploration/conversation/observation


    Mandatory potty, outdoor exploration/conversation/observation


    Hand-washing, lunch


    Mandatory potty, nap time


    Slow wake up, mandatory potty, invitation exploration/conversation/observation


    Clean up, hand-washing, snack time


    Afternoon meeting


    Mandatory potty, outdoor exploration/conversation/observation, pick-up

Our Rules, created by the crew:

  “Good Listening.”  -Bryn, age 3

“Say you’re welcome” -Nelmy June, age 3

“Ask how many minutes. Set the timer” -Bryn, age 3)

“Walking feet, not running feet” -Georgia, age 3

“No snatching” -Nylah, age 3

“Friendly” -Georgia, age 3

“No scratching, hitting. Gentle hands.” Nylah, age 3

“Say sorry” -James, age 3

“Be respectful” -Ms. Jonte, age adult


In the classroom, we have 14 jobs that we rotate between the children every week. Some of these won’t really translate well at home, but you can either adapt them to home life or choose to exclude them. For example, the line leader can maybe lead everyone into the back yard or on the park trail. At home, you can rotate them daily rather than weekly.

Line leader – Gardener – Breakfast Helper – Teacher’s Helper – Weather Helper – Calendar Helper – Lunch Helper – Librarian – Snuggle Bug – Snack Helper – Water Helper – Shoe Helper – Door Holder – Caboose

How To’s:


The way clean-up time works in the Fish Cove is we and/or the kids choose an upbeat (preferably long) song. We say “On your mark…get set…CLEAN!” and play the music super loud! They have the entire length of the song to clean an appropriate amount of toys and wash their hands. Any time left over in the song can be spent celebrating by dancing!

Good Listening Tattoos:

Any time we notice a child or children who are working really hard to do just the right thing, we give them a “good listening tattoo”. A GLT is just a simple drawing with a washable marker on their hand, but it is so special to them. As we give them the tattoo, we tell them why we are giving it to them, ending with “I/We appreciate you”. Some friends even aim to earn a whole “sleeve” per day!

Whisper Masters:

There are many a time when things get too loud, and in a classroom of 14 3-4 year olds, many a time it’s the trend to get loud regardless of what the teacher says. In these moments, rather than get annoyed (it happens!), we like to redirect by playing “Whisper Masters”. In this game, we pretend to adjust invisible crowns on our head and be masters of whispering! If a friend starts to get a little loud again, we say (whisper) “Oh, it looks like your crown is slipping a little! Can you fix it?” This usually pulls them right back into the game. It’s a challenge, but challenges (something that is hard, but you can do it!) are a different form of a job, which makes our friends feel extra important. We also reward our Whisper Masters by giving them crown shaped good listening tattoos!

Catching A Bubble:

“Catching a bubble” is when friends fill their mouths with air, puffing out their cheeks. It is NOT them holding their breath! It is used for when we need them to focus on something with their eyes and ears.

Making An Annoucement:

To make an important announcement, such as “Friends, 5 minutes until our clean-up song”, or “On your mark…get set…CLEAN!”, we first ring a bell. You may use any sort of sound-making device, such as a xylophone or a singing bowl. When friends hear the bell (or device of choice), they stop, look and catch a bubble while putting one hand on their heads. This assures that they are completely stopping whatever they are doing to focus on the important announcement. For this to work, it is imperative that your ringing device be used ONLY for important announcements. If it is used as a toy, the sound will not hold it’s importance.

Reggio Discipline:

We’re not going to pretend that “taking breaks” (time out) doesn’t happen in the classroom, or that it won’t need to happen at home. Reggio discipline is all about using a “break” as a last resort. For the most part, every situation is unique. It is all about choices. Here is a general order of operations when sorting through a conflict:

1) Have a conversation. Hear them out- every party involved. Hear what happened and see if you can get to a solution WITH them, gently guiding them to the kind choice. If this works, YAY! If not, move onto Step 2.

2) Begin stating choices. “Can you solve this on your own, or do you need some assistance?” If this works, YAY! If not, no worries, move onto Step 3.

3) Narrow their choices. “You may either solve this or switch centers.” If this works, YAY! If not, say hello to Step 4.

4) Get serious. “You may either choose to switch centers or you may choose take a break. What are you choosing?” You may also state it as “You may choose to have fun somewhere else, or you may choose to take a break.” If this works, YAY! If not…Step 5.

5) Set the boundary. “I’m sorry you made that choice. Go take a break.”


  • If there is a reoccurring negative action that has already been addressed several times, such as hitting or being rough in general, you may implement “Zero Tolerance”. This is when the child is clearly told that every single time they commit this action, they will go straight to a break. (See: “Taking Breaks”)
  • If the child is only making wrong choices with certain friends, you may tell them to separate for a few minutes. You may follow the guidelines for Step 4 to navigate this situation.
  • If your child is choosing to not respond to your choices, you may say “I am giving you 5 calm seconds to make your choice, or I will have to make your choice for you.” Count calmly. If they do not answer, you may say “Okay it’s been 5 seconds, so I am going to move your body now into a break.” If they resist, you then say “If you do not want me to move your body, you will have to move it yourself. I am giving you 5 calm seconds to make this choice.” Count to 5. If they move, good. If not, move their body, end of discussion.

The key here is to always FOLLOW THROUGH and BE CONSISTENT!!! Follow the steps and do what you say.

Taking Breaks:

A break only lasts as long as it takes for the child to be ready to have a conversation. Remind them “I’m happy to have a conversation about what happened when you’re ready.” Ask them frequently “Are you ready to have a conversation, or do you need to sit a while longer?”


Having the same conversations over and over again about the same behavioral issues can be exhausting and downright time-consuming. Let’s say your child is in the “zero tolerance” situation for very frequently being too rough. At this point, we need to try something different, right? This is when redirection comes into play. Redirection is used a lot in classroom management.

A nice redirection for this scenario would be to create an agility course or to research safe novice martial arts techniques. Doing exercises together is also a great form of redirection. At home, you can look up exercise videos, or straight up do some cross-fit together! You can let your child safely use a hammer with a clear objective, or pound on some clay. Redirection is a way to allow your child to get the same energy out in a safe and acceptable way.


The children get a lot of choices throughout the day. In fact, most of the day is led by them. However, when it comes to things that are in our schedule, such as hand washing, sitting down for meal times, or our mandatory potty times, they do not get a choice. In these instances, you may say “You have lots of choice throughout your day, but this is not one of them. (Insert instruction here)”. This is also appropriate if your child is doing something that is very unsafe like running away in public, or something very disrespectful, such as spitting at you.

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