Classroom safety rules—not exactly the most exciting school topic. Or is it? While following safety rules may sound more like no fun to your small learners, safety rules for kids in the classroom create a dynamic that empowers them and results in a more stimulating and cooperative learning environment.
Safety Rules in a Classroom: Broadly Speaking
When it comes to keeping kids safe in school, rules should cover two main categories: behavioral and environmental. This accounts for emotional, psychological, and physical safety.
Behavior rules cover issues like:
- bullying, both physical and verbal
- interrupting other students or the teacher
- respecting other students’ possessions
- speaking respectfully to others
- moving safely
Environmental rules, developed by adults but practiced by both adults and kids, include:
- inspecting and maintaining equipment to assure it’s working properly
- creating a space that is orderly
- putting supplies in areas that are easy to access
- supervising activities that require potentially dangerous equipment
That’s a lot for children (especially smaller ones) to absorb and these are only some of the kinds of rules teachers deal with. That’s why it’s critical to have a clear outline of classroom safety rules and to make sure they are rigorously followed. So how is one to accomplish all of this?
Strategies on How to Create a Safe Classroom Environment
Two key elements to creating safety in the classroom are repetition and getting the students involved. Repetition reinforces the rules, while getting the kids involved reinforces and empowers them.
Get your kids involved in developing the rules and explain to them why rules are important. Encourage students to give reasons why they think these rules are meaningful. The more kids are involved in the safety of their environment, the more likely it will be that they adhere to and appreciate safety rules.
A great way to repeat rules and involve kids is to get them to create safety posters for the classroom. Try to make learning classroom safety rules fun! This video, featuring a safety song, is one of many options you can find on the internet. Consider working with students to create a video unique to your class.
Consistency and consequences are critical to maintaining adherence to safety rules. If rules are not implemented at all times, students won’t take them seriously, leading to the possibility of a chaotic, even dangerous, school room. Think about consequences for breaking the rules. Kids can be involved here, too: What do they think are fair consequences? It’s also crucial to remember that these rules apply to adults modelling expected behavior. Check out these additional suggestions for teachers from Edutopia’s 20 Tips for Creating a Safe Learning Environment. They include remaining calm at all times, smiling often, and keeping the vibes good.
The Benefits of Well-Enforced Classroom Safety Rules
OK, you’ve identified the areas your classroom safety rules will cover, and you’ve developed great strategies to implement those rules. So what’s the payoff?
There are lots of benefits to creating safety in the classroom. First, you’ll have fewer physical injuries and hurt feelings. According to Education World’s Creating a Safe Classroom Environment: “Creating a classroom that is organized and that is characterized by mutual respect makes it a lot easier to teach effectively, and one of the most important things teachers can do to promote learning is to create classroom environments where students feel safe.”
Creating a respectful and safe environment also helps build a strong community and contributes to cooperative learning. Children who feel safe with each other are more likely to participate in class discussions and ask questions, both of which facilitate learning and social bonding.
Safety Rules in the Classroom: Lessons for a Lifetime
Learning safety rules has implications far beyond school. It is critical for thriving workplace and home environments. In fact, a strong commitment to work safety can have a shockingly positive ripple effect through an entire company. Our previous post, Workplace Safety Culture Has the Power to Change Everything, gives a powerful real life example of this: it tracks how Alcoa’s CEO Paul O'Neill “steered the company to success by honing in on one seemingly isolated aspect of Alcoa's operations: safety culture.”
Just like in the classroom, safety at work has an impact on workers’ effectiveness and morale. Or, as Forbes states, “Increasing employee well-being means a more efficient and higher-performing organization.” And while the tips in our earlier post, The Psychology of How to Promote Safety in the Workplace, were written for adult environments, many of them can be tweaked for classroom purposes as well.
Administering safety in the classroom is paramount to creating a healthy, vibrant learning environment. Practicing lifelong safety will go a long way in leading a happy and thriving life. Now that you’re excited about classroom safety rules, it’s time to spread that excitement throughout the school environment!