Behaviour: reception pupils

22nd October 2010 at 01:00
A third of my reception class have serious behaviour issues. I get no support from management even though the other reception class seems more manageable. Any help for a tired teacher about to quit?

What you said

"Keep a record of what is happening and the action you are taking to deal with it. That way you can go back to management with evidence that the problems in class are not down to you."


"Talk to your GP about depression. It will help to support your case and give you some protection under the Disability Discrimination Act. Remember that you are not the problem and it's not your fault. Take a step back and look at the situation."


"Perhaps the children's bad behaviour should be prevented. Some parents are very defensive when it comes to their children being criticised: there is an argument for an initial formal letter from the school rather than a phone call from an individual teacher."


The expert view

Do not quit! You are a teacher with a passion for teaching and nurturing children.

A child's behaviour becomes a problem if it does not match the expectations of the teacher andor school. If a child prevents the teacher from teaching and pupils from learning, their behaviour is unacceptable and needs a positive, structured approach.

- Establish realistic rules. For example: listen and do; keep hands, feet and objects to ourselves; treat everyone kindly. Children need to listen to the teacher's instructions so they can engage and abide by school routines. "Listen and do" must be reinforced regularly throughout the day in the form of a game. The teacher says "Listen and do. Put your books away." The first group to do this wins a point on the "Listen and do" poster.

- Use positive reinforcements. Children need motivation and dynamic energy to achieve the desired behaviour. Decide on the reinforcements you will use - stickers, healthy snacks, free time. The frequency and level of reward depends on the level of behaviour. If a child's behaviour is frequently difficult to manage, the frequency and level of reward must be high.

- Impose class sanctions. Make these appropriate for children's age, stage and development. Time out on a thinking spot is effective for reception pupils. This gives the child a chance to calm down and reflect on their behaviour. The duration of time out should be according to age: for example, a four-year-old would be put into time out for four minutes. When the time is up, ask them if they are ready to join the class.

- Nicola S Morgan is a behaviour management consultant and co-founder of For more behaviour advice, go to



- Establish class rules and reinforce them regularly.

- Provide incentives as a motivation for good behaviour.

- Use time-outs as a sanction for reception children.


Give up - a consistently applied behaviour strategy will reap rewards.

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