By Teachers, For Teachers
One of the biggest challenges teachers face is managing the everyday antics of their classroom. From controlling the classroom to getting students to turn in their homework assignments, classroom management is a constant struggle. You can set up a traffic light system or any behavior management chart, and more so than not you will still get a few students who will test you to your limits.
But what if there was a simple solution to get your students to do what you ask of them? With all of your precious time wasted on disciplining your students for not turning in their homework or not listening while you’re talking, you can use that time to really teach your students. This solution is called Fun Friday! I first came upon when my son told me that he wanted to bring his Pokémon cards with him to school on Friday. I asked if he was allowed to and he said, “Of course, it’s Fun Friday, mom!” From that point onward I saw my son working hard all school year just so he could enjoy the benefits of Fun Friday. There are many different ways that Fun Friday can work, it really depends upon the teacher. Here is a brief look at what it is and how it works.
Fun Friday is a day that is designated for fun, playing fair and having a good time. It can last the whole day, a few hours, or as little as 20 minutes. It’s a time for students to take a break from all of the academia and learn through play. It can be done with a few teachers or only one teacher.
Fun Friday is a weekly event that takes place every Friday. Teachers usually work together (it can be done solo) to organize a few hours of fun for the students. One teacher may have free time in their classroom where students are free to bring in toys, trade Pokémon cards, play board games, or play with toys. Another teacher may take a group of children out to the playground, and another teacher may host a fun activity in their classroom. Sometimes teachers let students play on iPads, computers, or the Smartboard. For the students who have not yet completed their homework assignments, or have gotten into trouble during the week, there is a teacher who hosts a study hall. If there aren’t enough teachers to participate in Fun Friday, then you can do it alone, or with just one teacher. If you team teach with the teacher next door, you can have the incentive of allowing students to invite a guest in from the next room to come to Fun Friday.
Fun Friday works because it’s something for the students to look forward to each and every week. They get the opportunity to socialize with their peers, especially the peers from other classrooms that they normally don’t get to see that often. It helps motivate them to do well all week as well as help students to motivate their classmates too.
It’s important to be strict with your Fun Friday requirements in order for it to work. A simple way to encourage students to stay on task is to create a chart in the room that they all can see. This chart can either be a traffic light, a clip chart, or even just a plan chart where it tells whether the student is staying on task. If the student misses any homework assignment or gets on yellow light, clipped down or however you want to work your behavior chart, then that student does not get to participate in Fun Friday and must got to the study hall room.
It’s not as hard as you may think to convince your school administration that you would like to carve out between 30 minutes and a few hours of fun time for your students. All you have to do to convince them is give them the research on learning through play. Studies have shown that it helps children grow physically, socially, emotionally, and mentally. And, not to mention it will help your students keep on track and turn their assignments in on time, as well as encourage them to listen and pay attention in class.
After a few weeks of implementing Fun Friday into your weekly schedule, you will be amazed how many students will their tails off in order to participate in it. It is such a great motivator for children, and all of those missing homework assignments and wasted time disciplining students will soon be few and far between.
Do you implement a Fun Friday into your weekly schedule? If not, what do you do to help your classroom management? Please share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.