Should children be given responsibilities in the early years?
Many practitioners in the early years, as well as many teachers in schools, use classroom helper systems such as these super hero classroom helper jobs. These give particular responsibilities to particular children either for the day of the week. The question still remains as to whether this is beneficial for the child or whether it is simply relieving the pressure of teachers and practitioners completing certain tasks.
Some of the responsibilities that may be given to children include:
- Register monitors
- Watering plants
- Feeding the settings pets
- Helping lay the table for meals
- Line leaders
- Door holders
- Making changes to calendars
- Choosing the book for story time
The benefits of classroom helpers
The list above is not exhaustive, and many practitioners adapt the list of responsibilities to meet the needs of the children and the classroom. The list can often be created as a way of minimizing times that cause disruption or tension within the classroom. For example, children often squabble over who was first in the line and who is at the front; by giving this small responsibility to a child, it reduces the reasons for arguments at lining up times. Children often feel empowered when they are given a small responsibility and take their role very seriously. This leads to children with increased confidence, maturity and self-esteem. All of which are important in creating active learners and supporting development in all areas of the EYFS. Also, responsibilities act as a great motivation for good behaviour if they are given to the children who have followed the entire settings rules well. By giving these jobs out to children, it shows them that they are trusted, and valuable members of the group and the children often see them as a reward rather than a chore. Many practitioners choose to give jobs only to the children who want to do them, and they are rarely forced upon a child. If these are done on a daily basis and if children are asked who would like to do each job it often promotes the British value of democracy by showing children that they have the choice and that they can vote and show interest but may not always get their choosing.
The negatives of classroom helpers
As detailed above there are many benefits to having classroom helpers and giving children responsibilities however they can sometimes have negative effects and for this reason, practitioners need to be very sensitive when deciding to enrol a classroom helper system.
The responsibilities that are handed out should be based on small achievable tasks that serve a purpose other than just helping the practitioner or teacher out. The practitioners should also be mindful in ensuring the responsibilities are promoted in a positive light and are not seen as a chore. Children will not respond well to being given a job if it is seen as a chore and instead of it leading to confidence and motivation it could lead to a child feeling very demotivated. The responsibilities should also be handed out equally and in a fair fashion. This means not choosing the same children every day or week to complete the jobs. Every child should be given the opportunity to benefit from being given a responsibility.
All in all classroom helpers if operated in a sensitive and mindful manner can lead to many benefits for the children and help them to progress through the early year’s foundation stage. Download some cards to use with the children to support a classroom helper system here