Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Three Rules

Rules change, for good reason.

I find I run into problems whenever I apply any rule too rigidly.

For years now, I've had three fundamental rules in kindergarten. All the students know them: Be Safe. Be Happy. Be Kind.

The Safe-Happy-Kind classroom rules have worked well over the years. They are simple, easy to learn and remember, broadly applicable, and are readily accepted by students. That's a lot.

But I've noticed that a few students interpret that second rule, "Be Happy," to mean something like, "Be Assertive and Get What I Want." When this happens, I've had to explain exactly what I mean by the words "Be Happy." I tell them that happiness arises as the result of taking care of the people around you. Five year old children are notoriously egocentric. For some students finding happiness by helping others is a brand new idea.

My goal—that students feel safe and happy in kindergarten—remains the same. But the expression of that goal would benefit from rewording to avoid misinterpretation.

Be Helpful

Since happiness in a classroom setting depends in countless ways on people helping people, the rule should say simply and directly, "Be Helpful."

So from today the three fundamental rules are: Be Safe. Be Helpful. Be Kind.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I didn't read it.

Dan Gurney said...

Well, anyway, we went back to safe, happy, kind. So there.