Five tips for getting kids into line

Get In Line!In elementary school, students travel together in a single-file line.  Many times during the day, your class will find it necessary to line up and go somewhere.  Forming a line seems so simple:  Hands to yourself.  Face forward.  Walk evenly behind the person in front of you.

Why do students have such a hard time walking in line? I have yet to break the code on inspiring truly perfect lines, but I do have some tips:

  1.  Slow down!  My students taught me this.  Adults walk much faster than children.  When the teacher walks too fast, kids straggle.    Some students have to run a few steps to close the gap between themselves and the person they follow.  When I walked at an appropriate pace, the line improved.
  2. “Stare at the hair.”  For some reason, this little saying helps students keep behind the next person in line.  Having a focal point helps kids focus.
  3. Line up in number order.  Most teachers assign class numbers to their students at the beginning of the year.  Lining up in numerical order eliminates jockeying for a prime position in line.
  4. Assign students a line marker.  In our hallways, students can line up easily by each taking one square in the floor tile.  If you have tile floors, give this a try.
  5. Sing a little song as you line up.  When the song is finished, everyone had better be in line properly.  Non-compliant kids can be invited to write sentences about how to line up properly.  Some teachers have students recite Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes with the same idea: be in line by the time the rhyme is finished.  A bonus is that reciting nursery rhymes builds fluency, phonemic awareness, and cultural knowledge.

If all else fails, repeat, repeat, repeat!  If your class misbehaves in line, invite them to go back to the classroom and do it again.  Being late to fun classes like PE is a good motivator for efficiency in forming a line.

I know repetition is supposed to cure students of misbehaving in line, but I have found that many kids really don’t mind the practice.  Even so, line discipline is important.  Consider holding remedial line practice during recess.  In a flash, students will be motivated to get into line efficiently to preclude future  line practice sessions during recess!

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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Nov 18, 2009


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