A classroom environment is more than just the physical environment of the classroom. It is the feeling of acceptance and the power of community that defines each class. In a time where bullying and unhealthy lifestyles are more prevalent than ever, it is critical for teachers to create a healthy classroom environment where students feel safe and can thrive. By creating a healthy classroom, you can provide a physical environment that promotes healthy choices.
There are so many ways to help build up your students each day and encourage them to do the same for one another. This type of supportive classroom atmosphere will not only create happier students but smarter ones too. That’s because a healthy emotional and physical classroom environment is better for learning since it allows kids to focus on the topic at hand rather than troubling issues. If you’re serious about making your classroom the best it can be this year, use these 25 tips for creating a healthy environment at school.
Creating a Healthy Classroom Environment
- Set clear behavior expectations from the first day of school and stick to them throughout the year.
- Have a no-bullying tolerance policy with clear consequences.
- Spend time building the classroom community and discussing how students are more alike than different.
- Adopt “bucket filler” thinking and encourage students to point out the positive. Hang up motivational posters to keep kids in the right mindset.
- Model being the positive person you want your students to be from the moment they enter the classroom.
- Create a class “Get Fit” routine and take daily fitness breaks even if it is just for five minutes.
- Dance to relieve stress, get the wiggles out and transition to new activities. Use online videos to teach the kids a few dance moves to one of their favorite songs.
- Encourage healthy snack options and host a “Mystery Fruit Friday” by bringing in unusual fruits each week for children to sample.
- Have a “Walk Across America” challenge throughout the year and encourage students to wear pedometers and track their steps. See if you can make it across the United States by the end of the school year.
- Bring in plants or grow an herb garden in your classroom.
- Open the windows and let fresh air in at least once a day.
- Take water breaks and encourage students to stay hydrated. Allow students to have reusable water bottles that they can keep at their desks and refill as needed.
- Play calm, relaxing music throughout the day. Provide privacy shields to help students focus.
- Boost moods with happy, exciting music during transition times.
- Have “Mean Clean Friday” every week where students clean out and wipe down their desks, chairs, small group tables, large manipulatives, etc. Keep the classroom organized with baskets, tubs and folders.
- Give genuine praise, praise and more praise. And then some more.
- Validate students’ dreams and goals by posting them on bulletin boards, on the class website and in the weekly or monthly newsletter.
- Keep pump bottles of hand sanitizer around the room in easy to reach places for students’ use. Remind students to wash their hands before meals and after using the bathroom.
- Talk about “gross behaviors” and “healthy choices” to promote healthier interactions. Give examples of positive changes students can make rather than calling out poor choices they’ve made in the past.
- Get to know your students individually. When you know them, it is easier to quickly spot when they are having a bad day.
- Do team-building activities frequently to encourage respect, communication and collaboration between students.
- Emphasize that the classroom is a safe, healthy environment for all students, and no one has the right to take that away from anyone.
- Never “call out” a child in front of the class. If there is an issue, deal with it away from the other students.
- Make parents and families aware of your classroom rules, code of conduct and expectations for behavior from the very first day of school.
- Let your students know that you adore them and think that they are the best group of children you have ever had. Remind them frequently throughout the day.
What are some of your favorite ways or best tips for creating a healthy classroom environment? Share with us below.
By Brandi Jordan
This piece was originally published in 2016.