Classroom Management with Young Children

excited kids
05 Dec Shelley Vernon 4 Comments

It can be difficult to manage a classroom of children, even if they are only three years old ! Here is a question from a teacher on managing her classroom of mixed ages – not an easy task…



'In one class I have  8 children. 6 of age 5 and 2 of age 3. The 3 year olds are distracting the rest of the class, meaning they scream, throw the toys around the class, turn over the small chairs, etc.  I was running after them trying to involve them in the game activities.

Yesterday I  was exhausted at the end of the lesson. I gave the 5 years old animals coloring page and told them to cut and glue it at the board. Then I took the two 3 year old children and I played, or rather tried to play on the floor with the animals. They started screaming, running and bothering the others.

Any suggestions on how to handle  them and the lesson?'



1. To manage this classroom well you cannot abandon the majority of the class to colouring. You’ll have to ignore those three year olds so that you can get on with giving a proper English lesson to the others.  If you don’t eventually the parents will notice that no-one is learning anything !

2. As you have the majority of the class aged five and only two 3 year olds I would do the opposite of what you are doing currently.  That is to say instead of abandoning the five year olds to colouring, where they won’t be learning English and devoting yourself to the two brats. I would ignore the brats and focus on teaching the five year olds.

3. The three year olds cannot learn at the same pace as the five year olds (unique exceptions aside).  If you go at the pace of the three year olds the five year olds will be bored out of their minds.  Focus on the older ones and let the three year olds absorb what they can as sponges.  Ideally you might even drop them from the class since they are a total nuisance.


Everyone loses with the current set up:

a. Five year olds are not learning and will be dissatisfied

b. Three year olds are being rewarded with your full attention for behaving badly

c. You are exhausted

d. Parents will be dissatisfied with the results



Things need changing radically and I would do it by:

a. Drop the three year olds from the class if you can, they are a nuisance in this context.

b. Tell them off if they scream and throw things.  Where possible ignore them completely.  Tell them off firmly if they come near you and the five year old children. Concentrate fully on teaching the older children. Let the three year old children play QUIETLY in the room while you are teaching.  From time to time encourage them to join in but give them easy tasks, things they know, things you know they can do.  They will absorb the English slowly and it’s still good for them to be in the room hearing English spoken around them.

c. Use music with choreography and actions to engage the older children. The younger ones will be attracted to what you are doing and may wish to participate.

d. Use mime and movement.


Classroom management is as vital as the subject being taught.  With an badly managed classroom no one can learn anything and the teachers gets exhausted.

Use my preschool games book and bonus teaching toddlers report to give lessons that engage young children so they participate actively.


For other useful classroom management tips see:

To see all my teaching resources please visit this page: Shelley Ann Vernon's teaching resources.


All the best

Shelley Ann Vernon
Teaching English Games


I guess mixed groups will work only with the elder children, while that isn`t good idea with the preschoolers.
First of all you can’t mix up 3 and 5 years old the level difference is to big and when the 3 years old can’t behave than there’s only one thing you can do and that’s talk to the parents and like me I’m in China so it’s useless to talk to the parents so just give the fee back they payed and tell the parents that they are not ready to learn English yet and that they are to playfull!
Hello Han, I agree, it's not practical to mix three-year-olds with five-year olds, but some teachers are stuck with that situation. That said, I have successfully taught 3-year-old children English. They do learn! You have to go slowly, and repeat things often, but they can and do learn English that young. All the best, Shelley Ann Vernon.
I have ,not 3-year-old screaming but have extra active 3-year-old learners,walk and run permanently and go out of the class to their mothers several times that distract the other kids.first of all I try to diagnose those learners favorites objects or activities and I make use of those objects in my teaching in this case both age group benefits teaching .i try to teach those cases which needs more activities and movements such as TPRs. In the case of screaming if I had ,I totally ignore him/her when screaming and prize those who are silent,I ignore him/her and admire those who do what I say. And I would consult the screaming child 's mom to find out the rout of this habit and try to help her solve the problem.screaming is not the thing from school it is definitely arises from the family(they provide any thing the child asks them) Your sincerely, Firoozeh

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