Discipline is used in schools to keep students, teachers and other staff safe and to help meet the behavioral, social and emotional needs of the children as they grow and develop. Schools approach discipline in various ways and the severity of the discipline usually coincides with how severe the offense was.
Goal of Discipline
The main goal of discipline in schools is to teach children appropriate ways of behaving by giving consequences for making poor choices. For example, a student who doesn’t pay attention in class may have to spend recess time making up material that was missed. Discipline helps a student refrain from the behavior in the future.
The other goal of school discipline is to create a learning environment that benefits all students. By putting an end to behaviors that are not conducive to learning, teachers and administrators are able to create classrooms that are ideal for the educational needs of the children in the school.
Types of School Discipline
Punitive techniques of discipline are the most common and involve giving an unpleasant consequence in response to a negative behavior. An example of this is when a child must move his desk to the front of the room after getting caught throwing pencils at other students. The aim is that next time the student considers throwing a pencil, he will remember the embarrassment of having to move to the front of the room while the entire class knows he is in trouble.
Zero tolerance is something that is used for more severe behaviors. Typically students are given warning or two before being given a consequence. However, the technique of zero tolerance means that no warnings are given and consequences are immediate. This type of discipline is used in cases of violence toward other students, drugs and other dangerous behaviors.
Some schools also use positive reinforcement, which is a technique that involves offering positive consequences for behavior that teachers and other staff want to see. For example, perhaps a student is given a sticker for turning in homework on time or is allowed to check out an extra library book for showing proper care of books. The goal here is to make proper behavior attractive enough that students want to make the right choices.
Effects of the Right Discipline Choice
The type of discipline a school chooses to use has an impact on the overall atmosphere and safety of the learning environment. In general, experts suggest a mixture of the types to create well rounded students who avoid undesired behaviors and instead gravitate toward the undesired ones. Discipline also creates structure and expectations for students, something that plenty of research says is ideal for teaching kids, both academically and socially, effectively preparing them for life beyond school.
According to the American Institutes for Research, students who are effectively disciplined, both positively and negatively, have a higher academic performance and are less likely to become part of the juvenile justice system as they get older. In addition, experts have found that discipline that occurs at school, rather than suspending students, further improves their performance in the classroom and helps keep them out of the legal system.
What Parents Can Do
School discipline is only truly effective if parents are willing to back up the decisions made by the school and help their child learn the proper way to behave at school. Parents should make a point of understanding the discipline used at their child’s school so they know what to expect and teach their child what to expect. Parents should understand that the rules at school may be different than the ones at home, but that kids are expected to follow the rules when they are in the classroom. Parents who partner with the school are the most likely to create students who behave appropriately at school and who don’t need much discipline to be successful.