Classroom Discipline Plans for Head Start: Sticking to the Plan and Enforcing the Rules.

Classroom Discipline Plans for Head Start: Sticking to the Plan and Enforcing the Rules.
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Before You Plan

Head Start teachers are confronted each year with conglomeration of students from various learning backgrounds and environments. For some students, Head Start is the first time they will be away from home or family. Other students will be old pros at the requirements of being in a classroom. This variation makes classroom discipline plans for Head Start a priority. The preschool level discipline needs to incorporate the different levels of experience that each child brings. While it is best to have a full list of classroom rules in place before the students grace the door on the first day, they can be added at later times out of necessity.

Stay Positive

Negative responses tend to breed negative responses.

When a teacher confronts a young child with the word “no”, the reaction is often one of anger or sadness. Neither reaction is good. Avoiding using negative terms when creating classroom discipline plans for Head Start that will assist in keeping these bad reactions at bay.

Setting positive classroom rules may seem awkward to an educator new to the concept. A key to understanding the method is to tell the students what you want them to do instead of what you do not want them to do. Stay away from the old concept of “No gum chewing” and replace it with “Keep our mouths clean, free and ready”. While the rule still eliminates the students from chewing gum, it does not place a negative stigma on the action. The wording of the rule also covers more than just gum. At this level, it will eliminate a child eating paper or paste or chewing on their clothing.

Other examples of positive rules include the ultra simplistic “Let me teach” rule. This positive saying is a rule that has multiple applications for the young students. It replaces many of the old negative rules including “No talking when the teacher is talking” “Don’t get out of our chairs during class time” and other general activities that disrupt classroom time. This is often the first rule on positive classroom discipline plans for Head Start.


A key concept in developing classroom discipline plans for Head Start is the daily schedule. Keeping students on a schedule will assist in making transitions smoothly. As with any environment, knowing what comes next takes away anxious feelings for children as well as adults. Keep this in mind for successful preschool discipline.

Create a permanent classroom schedule and refer to it first thing in the morning each day. Include times for each activity. For example, “Morning Work” may be from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. followed by “Bathroom Break” from 9:30 to 9:45. Referring to this schedule each day lets the young students know that today is the same as yesterday, just with different worksheets, stories and crafts. This creates a comfortable environment and lessens any stress the youngsters may be feeling over school.


Even with the best rules in place, mishaps and chaos can occur in the classroom. When creating classroom discipline plans for Head Start, keep in mind that punishments will need to be enforced at some point.

While some educators may feel that different punishments fit different infractions, preschool discipline needs to be simplistic and clear. The “one punishment” rule eliminates any feelings of being treated unfairly that students may have.

The “Sad Pad” or “Stop Sign” are both forms of time-out discipline. The “Sad Pad” involves a small rug placed in an out-of-the way spot where a child goes for a designated period of time. This time should be less than five minutes for students of this age. The “Stop Sign” is executed by handing the child a cut-out red dot. The red dot is placed in front of the child as a reminder that they are on “Stop” or quiet time until the red dot is removed. The child may have to remain at the table while others go to circle time or left on the carpet after a story while the others move to a new activity. The red dot should be removed within a five minute time period.

As you prepare classroom discipline plans for Head Start, remember to stick to the plan and enforce the rules using a kind positive manner versus negative thoughts. This will surely keep your classroom happy and running smoothly.

References and Pictures

Photograph: One Stock Photo: woodleywonderworks

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