Classroom Management: Tips and Strategies for Success!

Classroom Set Up

Worship music

Play worship music in your classroom while setting up and preparing crafts and snacks. Sing and pray. Worship. Pray, repent, and open up your heart to let the Lord prepare you to handle the day in a Godly manner.


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Pray for a peaceful class time, pray for each kid, pray for yourself, pray against separation anxiety, pray for focus, pray for peace, pray for wisdom and discernment.  Review last week’s notes if necessary in case some prayer follow-up is required with one child or the whole class. For example: did little Johnny commit to pray for the class last week, let’s remember to engage him this week on his promise.


Strategize about setting up clusters of desks and individual desks to organize the kids in order to keep the class attentive. Ex: all boys and all girls, setting up for crew time, setting up for snacks in order to minimize time away from children during class, setting up games, coloring books, and activities for in-between times. Leave Kids Bibles on tables for reference.


Use the whiteboards to write simple rules to be reviewed at the beginning of each class. You can use the whiteboard for pertinent scriptures as well.

Coold Down Area

Set up a cool-down area in case a child needs a moment to cool down from the class setting. The cool-down area should be away but still inside the classroom. Make a Kids Bible available to that child.

Helpful Scriptures

Use the scriptures for orientation, continue to remind the class of these verses throughout the year in at least 2 different ways. First of all, write one of the verses on the whiteboard each week, as a quick reminder of how we should act. Secondly, place a copy of the verses in the front of your lesson plan every week for easy access if you need to reference one over a particular classroom incident.  This might be a verse you need for the entire group of kids or just talking one-on-one.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4

The kids will learn that we should be looking out for others’ interests.  In the classroom, we can do that by not distracting others, keeping quiet and allowing them to pay attention, giving others a chance to learn, and helping each other.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.

Philippians 2:14-15

The students mention that we shouldn’t be grumbling or disputing ideas. Where this could be a problem, review games or activities a student didn’t particularly like.  (By the way, these are hard verses to read.  I would recommend giving them to a strong reader.)

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.

1 Thessalonians 5:12

The class notes that they are to respect those “who work hard among you, who care for you” like their teachers, parents, older siblings, etc…

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 6:31

You can talk about ideas of how they want to be treated and therefore how they should do their best to treat others– listening to their presentations and allowing them time to think in a review. 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

Colossians 3:23

This verse encourages all of them to work heartily (while in class or anytime).  You can talk about how this looks in class.

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

Proverbs 17:9

This verse is relevant because sometimes kids (or any of us) are quick to share a perceived wrong with other friends.  You can talk about how quickly repeating that perceived wrong can separate friends (kids choosing sides in a dispute).

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

You can talk about how one can’t be responsible for the other person’s actions, but only your own.  As much as we can, we are to “live peacefully.”

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

This verse sums up a lot of classroom discussion on how to treat each other as well as what to do if we have a problem with a classmate.

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:14

The class can talk about the definitions of urge, idle, and disruptive.  After everyone understood the terms, the kids catch onto the idea of cheering each other on – whether a classmate is worn out or not wanting to work. Also great opportunity to talk about praying for that classmate, who is having a bad day!

Games for Fun!

The “Don’t Say a WORD” Game (ideal for activity transitions)

This is a game you can play when you have a particularly “chatty” and social class. Every time we come into the classroom, or lined up to go out or wait for the next phase (between activity and crew).

What you need:
1.  Reward fun stickers (make they are attractive to the kids, this will motivate them even more)

How to play:
1. Everyone must walk into or out of the classroom without saying a single word.  If they do, the whole class earns a reward, such as an extra five minutes of playtime.
2. As an option, you can also give the extra playtime minutes to those that were quiet, rather than take the reward away from the whole class. Unfortunately, some kids actually enjoy the “power” of being able to derail this activity, but will rally after a few episodes of not getting the sticker.

The Game is Over…
… When everyone is settled and seated for the next activity, they’re ready!  Praise the kids if they got it right.  Let them break into WILD CHEERS and allow them to CONGRATULATE each other if they made it!

* Wait until everyone is quiet in line before bringing them in (or sending them to line up) and remind them again of the reward when the game starts.
* Watch out for the order: kids usually have better luck waiting in line when the ones that are the “most social” don’t wind up right next to each other.  Some classes did best when they had actual places in line that they were assigned to stand or walk in every time. This works well by taping names or sight words, etc. to the floor, assigning each child a certain word to stand on (you can do it with chairs as well).

* It may be easier for them to be COMPLETELY SILENT than to ask them to “keep the noise down!”

The Quiet Game (A Game For Keeping a Class Busy While the Teacher Deals with a child in the bathroom or hurt.)

This game has to be the silliest game ever.  But it can be used nearly every Sunday; no teacher should be without it! 

What you need:
1.  Your teacher chair.
2.  A DISTRACTION that pulls you away from teaching your class for a minute or two- like a child wetting his pants, or a parent that MUST talk to you right away, in private!

How to play:
1. Choose one child to be the “starter.”  This child gets to sit in your teacher chair and chooses the quietest person in the room.
2. The person that gets chosen by the starter gets to be the next leader.  He gets to sit in the teacher chair and picks the next quietest person to sit in the teacher chair.
-Boys must pick girls, and girls must pick boys.  No “pick backs” allowed!
-No “stalling” allowed; (you can’t just sit there and pick no one, or the teacher will choose for you.  If I notice kids stalling, I call out, “Okay, I’m going to count to three, and then I will pick for you!”  That always does it.  They pick someone immediately!

The Game is Over…
… When you are done managing your DISTRACTION: have the person in the chair choose someone to start the game next time.  Don’t let the person in the chair be the starter next time, or kids may sit and “stall,” refusing to choose someone- usually because they hope to be the starter next time!

* Keep track of who gets to be the next “starter” on a small white board and pin it to a wall or bulletin board nearby your teacher chair.  If you can find a small one that has a place to attach a little dry erase marker with an eraser on the end of it, then it will be really quick and easy to write it down each time.

* If your “starter” is absent or busy with something, then have your helper of the day start the game.

The children in my class last year loved playing this game so much that they would whine about it if we didn’t get a chance to play during the day!  And, sometimes while a few of them were waiting for their parents to pick them up at the end of the day, they would play it while they waited!  They would even play it when there were only TWO children in the room!  You wouldn’t believe how dramatically they would think and think before they would choose that other person!  I even had a child play it once by herself!  She got a couple of dolls and bears from the playhouse, put them on the carpet squares, and proceeded to pick the “quietest” one!  (Don’t ask me how she made THAT decision!  Ah, the wonders of the Kindergarten imagination!)

Dream Time! (A Shorter Game For Keeping a Class Busy While the Teacher Takes Care of Something Quick)

Here is another silly game that is perfect for when you are in the middle of carpet time and something comes up that you need to take care of for just a moment.

What you need:
1. Comfortable classroom space, away from passage.
2. Floor mats, pillows and blankets possibly.

How to play:
1. Yell out, “Dream Time!  All of the children fall down and pretend to sleep.
2. They must remain on the floor, “Sleeping tight,” saying nothing at all until you are done with your distraction.

The Game is Over…..
… When you are done managing your distraction, that’s the end of the game.  I usually said something like, “Okay, everybody!  Wake Up!”

* Make sure the children realize where their feet are, and that moving their feet/kicking someone in the head might actually HURT!

Mr. Potato Head (or other build up toy alike)

What you need:
1.  A Mr. Potato Head set.
2. A bin with all props.

How to play:
1. Tell the children that each time an adult compliments the class on their behavior, they will get to add a piece to Mr. Potato Head.  For example, if someone says, “Gosh, your class is SO QUIET IN LINE TODAY!” then they would earn a piece.
2. I do not know which child got to choose the piece out of the box, but you could have a designated helper of the day.

The Game is Over….
… When Mr. Potato Head is full, then the class earns a reward of some time.  You’ll probably want to let them know in advance what the reward is.

* I’m not sure what constitutes a “full” Mr. Potato Head, but you may want to establish this ahead of time!

You can set it to award the class Reward Stickers after a certain amount of time working quietly, as well- a feature that I LOVE!  You can work on building up their stamina that way!  You can also choose the background that you like.  You also have the ability to pause the app so that you can talk to the class without setting off the alarm, which is nice. 

One way my friend Julie used it was by putting it underneath her document camera, so that the whole class could see the meter.  That worked great!  But then one group of students started getting a little louder than the rest, so she moved the meter over and just placed it right on their table group… which motivated them a little bit more to be really quiet.  It worked!

Peaceful Interactions

All behavior shall be considered communication or a desire for communication, even disruptive or destructive behavior but when you are working with very young children that communication can be hard to understand.  As a preschool/kindergarten age teacher, you have to manage the behavior at the moment while deciding what that child is trying to tell you.  Here are some tips for how to handle disruptive behavior in a preschool/kindergarten age classroom.

As you will see in this list, most of the advice is about you and your actions, not the child’s because a child is an autonomous being, and no amount of fantastic teaching can change or prevent disruptive behavior 100%, but you can react to it appropriately, with prayer, love and kindness…and prayer….and prayer…..Talk to the parent at drop off (especially with non-verbal kids). If it’s their first time, introduce yourself, other teachers and room set up. Ask about the week, if the child has had a stressful week, it may impact your interactions and you may have an opportunity to talk about it before it becomes an issue within the classroom, you also want to immediately start praying. Make sure the kids have gone to the restroom, ask the child or the parent (depending on age), this will minimize the distractions during class time.

Acknowledge the child. By saying hello, shaking hands, making eye contact, the child is being acknowledged into the classroom and now is part of it. It is even more critical when the child has some social skills challenges dues to some diagnosis (such as Autism , ADD, etc…). If it is a first-timer, introduce yourself, formally welcome the child into the room and encourage the other children already present to stop playing and turn around and say hi.

Set Classroom Rules and review them together at the beginning of each class. The classroom rules should be a healthy balance of expectations (dont’s) and boundaries (do’s), as well reasons (why’s) and demonstrations (how’s). Engage the kids with questions such as: “what do you think the rule should be here? Who remembers what our classroom rules are?” Give stickers to those who answer your questions. Explain rules in age-appropriate language. Repeat when new kids coming or once in a while. Have a written chart of the classroom rules.

Set your students up to succeed. Do not expect a 3-year-old to sit quietly for a 20-minute circle time or a trio of five-year-olds to be able to work next to each other without talking. Support your students’ growth and development with activities and materials that engage and challenge them but avoid frustration. Identify each kid’s strength and weakness and adjust accordingly.

Routine is Comfort. Let them in your planning and create and communicate time lines to make classroom time predictable. Make sure to prep the children when anything out of the ordinary is planned. Anxiety is a major reason for misbehavior in preschool-aged children, it doesn’t always present itself as worry. Explain schedule of class time at the beginning and write down on the board.

Allow “process” time and avoid overstimulation. Children receive and digest information slower than we do, and too much input too quickly will result in anxiety and possibly meltdowns. If you have too many things without time for free play, if there is too much noise or too many people crowded together you can have a harder time managing behaviors. I noticed last year that at the start of each month when we would switch themes that behavior would change, it was just too much for some students to have so many new things out. We adjusted and slowly introduced the changes and all returned to normal.

Use positive corrections instead of negative ones and scriptures where relevant. ” We walk inside, but when we get outside you can run.” ” Painting is for the easel, why don’t you come help me wash this paint off the car and then you can play with it in when you are done painting.” ” Hitting hurts. When you are angry, you need to use your words and keep your hands on your body.”

When you do have to correct a child get down to their level and do it gently and without shame. Avoid using ”I like how little Johnny is sitting; little Johnny is sitting perfectly.” instead try ” little Johnny is showing me he is ready by sitting by the fence.”  It is a subtle change but an important one. Avoid comparisons.

Notice good behavior, behavior improvements and praise it authentically. All children are good; their behavior may be challenging, but the child just wants connection, and it’s our job to find a way to make that connection.  Try to find what the misbehaving child is doing right and praise them for that. This is easy to say but sometimes harder to do, but it’s worth it.

Selectively ignore bad behaviors. Once you understand a child’s motivations for behaviors you can decide if you can ignore it or not. Of course how it affects other kids in the class plays a large role in whether you can ignore it or not. Is it disruptive? Can you move the child to another area within the classroom and allow them to keep it up where it won’t infringe on any other child? Can it be a teachable moment for the whole class without shaming the child?

Be a role model and call yourself out when you do something that breaks your classroom’s rules and expectations. Every moment in your classroom is a teachable moment. When you find yourself tossing a toy into a bin at the end of the class, which is not permitted. Catch yourself and quickly say ” Oh no I forgot we throw things outside, inside we place them in the bin. I will try that again.” Try it again by placing the toy in the bin with three children watching. It teaches them that everyone is subject to the classroom rules, even the teacher and they will remember these rules. I t also teaches them that we learn from our mistakes.

Teach about emotions to foster empathy. When children can recognize and respond to classmates’ emotions they can work more cooperatively and take responsibility for their actions and how they affect others. See scriptures above.

PLAY with “your” kids. Get down on the ground and pretend to be a lion, drink 50 cups of pretend coffee and make snakes with playdough. That is where your real authority will come from, not by shouting, or making students fear you. Make them love you by playing and connecting with them, and you will see children eager to please. I cannot stress this one enough; young children will listen to your requests much more effectively when they feel a connection.

Encourage Clean up. It empowers the kids and teaches them to value their classroom and all equipment/toys/games in it.When they leave, say goodbye, give an encouraging word to the child but also to the parent. Ask them how the service was, let them know it was an honor to have their child in your classroom.