Working with Children

Basic Guidelines for Working with Children in the Classroom
Adapted from the document by the same name
by Colleen Strohm, director, Chrysalis Home School

1.Be respectful of the children. Speak to them as you would to good
2.Try to encourage a calm atmosphere. When you want to speak to a
child, walk to where she is and speak directly to her.
3.Children learn from us as role models. Don’t do anything you don’t
want to see them doing.
4.Encourage independence in the children by helping them disengage
from the adults as the center focus.
5.Encourage interdependence amongst the children. “Ask ____ to help.
She’s great at puzzles”. This boosts the helper’s self-esteem while
encouraging the asking child to pursue other avenues for assistance.
6. Listen to the children’s words as well as their behavior. “I need help”
often means “I want to be near you”. Acting out often means, “Pay
attention to me”.
7.If a child calls to you from across the room, motion for him to come
closer and thank him for doing so.
8.If children are loud and you want them to be quiet, ask them in a very
soft voice. Whispering can be very effective.
9. If you don’t handle a situation as well as you would have liked,
apologize to the child. It is important that they see that we, too, make
10. When a child complains, “she’s bothering me!”, help him to tell her
what he wants to say. Give him the language if necessary. Stand by
as an adult presence, not the all-powerful decision-maker.
11. Limit words when speaking with a child. Too many words and
children get lost; they don’t need lengthy explanations.
12. Phrase requests in a positive manner. “Please sit on a chair” rather
than “Get off the table”.
13. Give words of thanks and encouragement when a child least expects
it – especially when a child is having a “bad” day.
14. Speak quietly, directly, and at eye level to a child.
15. Don’t use words like “good” and “bad” as adjectives. More appropriate
are “cooperative” and uncooperative” or “helpful” and “unhelpful”.
16. Encourage children to describe how they feel: angry, frustrated,
proud, sad, happy, etc.
17. Never discuss a child in a negative way in front of the children.
Discuss children only with their own parents.
18. Avoid lengthy conversations about your personal lives that exclude
the children. While you are working you are there for them.
19. Don’t ask questions unless you are prepared to give a choice. Say
“Please pick up the blocks” rather than “Do you want to pick up the
20. If you are having difficulty with a particular child, step back and allow
the teacher deal with the child for a while. Sometimes a change in
energy will change the situation.
21. Invite but don’t force participation.
22. Praise the effort, not the end product.
23. Don’t do for the children what they can do for themselves.
24. Be Sincere.

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