When parents teach young children to talk, listen, and act with respect, they are clearly setting a standard for school success. In our classroom we have five simple class rules. They are:
eyes on the speaker (indicating that it’s not always the teacher, sometimes it’s another student)
be respectful and kind
Together we brainstorm as to what being “respectful” is all about—and that’s something parents can easily model and practice at home.
One easy way to practice this is to include the word “respect” when setting rules and informal guidelines at home. For example:
“We respect our possessions by neatly folding our clothes and cleaning up the mess when we are finished an activity.”
If a child demands, “I want a cookie,” gently remind him, “Would you like to ask that again respectfully?” (Please may I have a cookie?)
Model how to disagree respectfully. “I know that your favorite board game is Chutes and Ladders, but my favorite one is Scrabble Jr. I like that one better because it helps with spelling. I agree to play your favorite tonight and let’s play mine on Saturday night.” You’re subtly teaching that it is perfectly fine to disagree with someone, and there is always a way to work things out.
When you model giving and getting respect in your everyday family life, children will naturally incorporate this into their school career and beyond.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.