Orderly Entry and Exit

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Question:

Can you offer suggestions to achieve a quiet, safe, orderly entry and exit of primary grade children in and out of the school at recess times? 
Suzanne
Primary Lead Teacher

Answer:

Hi Suzanne, You are probably aware of our book, "Positive Discipline in the Classroom". One of the themes of that book is the importance of getting children involved in creating guidelines for behavior. We include an activity for getting children into a circle for class meetings that would work very well for orderly entry and exit.

It is very simple. Ask the children to brainstorm ways to complete the task Quickly, Quietly, and Respectfully. Write down all their ideas. Let them choose the ones that will work best and then let them practice. Keep them involved. In something doesn't work, ask them for their ideas on why it doesn't work and what they could do to make it work.

I'm sure you can see the benefits of this method. Children are more willing to cooperate in plans they have helped create -- and they are learning problem solving skills. They are also learning the importance of including respect for others in their solutions. By the way, their ideas may or may not include lining up – which often creates competition instead of cooperation. Following is an excerpt from our new book, "Positive Discipline for Childcare Providers" on lines:

Lines

Child Development Concept

Lining up, that staple of life in preschools, childcare centers, and elementary schools, creates all kinds of problems. There's just something about having to stand in line that seems to induce the nicest kids to hit, shove, complain, call names, cut in line, and generally fight the system. 
We have often wondered why schools keep insisting on a method that creates more problems than it solves. We are further amazed to see preschool teachers trying to get small children to "line up." Many things are expected of children before they are developmentally ready, and lining up fits in this category. It is an invitation for failure, rebellion, and confusion because young children in particular cannot understand the purpose.
Suggestions:

1. We think the reason teachers try to get children to line up is to create order. Since the opposite is often the result, it makes sense to try something else to create order and efficiency.
2. As long as the children can get to and from destinations quickly, quietly, and safely, stop requiring lines. If they have problems, engage them in solving the problems.
3. Of course, our favorite method for solving problems is to involve children (four and older) in class meetings to brainstorm for solutions so they will have ownership in the plans they create. (If they are too young to engage in brainstorming, they are too young to understand lines.) Start by asking for their ideas about how to get from one place to another quickly, quietly, and safely. They might come up with such ideas (with a little prompting) as: keep your hands to yourself, know where you are going, and be respectful of those around you. 
4. When you have established routines (see page X), lines are not necessary. Allow children to move freely from play time to story time to outside time to bathroom time to lunch (or whatever your daily routine includes). If you find a stray child, invite her to look at the routine chart to see what is next.
5. Younger children may need help. Simply take them by the hand (or invite an older child to do so) and lead them to where they need to go next.
Tips for working with parents
Emphasize the importance of having faith in children to be respectful when adults provide them with routines and engage them in problem solving. Parents are more concerned that their children are happy, safe, and respected than that they be able to form a line.
If you try this, let me know how it goes.

Respectfully, Jane Nelsen