For Japanese and Korean Kindergarten, Preschool and ESL/EFL Students

Classroom Behaviour Management Strategies

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Yes, this is a lengthy document, but it covers thoroughly, in detail, with specific examples and advice all areas of classroom management. It has helped a great number of teachers and hopefully will do the same for you. ©The Magic Crayons

No part of this document may be reproduced without permission. Thank you.


As a Manager of a large teaching company supplying Teachers to over 50 Kindergartens in Japan the most common request from teachers was how to maintain discipline in the classroom. Many teachers had little or no Japanese language ability which when coupled with the unique experience of living and working in Japan resulted in many issues within the classroom.

We asked 25 non Japanese English teachers, with between one and 10 years teaching experience in Japan to supply us with their advice, their top tips, their tried and tested techniques to maintain discipline.

We were amazed and truly grateful for the lengthy and informative responses we received. It seemed everyone remember clearly their first teaching experiences and were eager to pass on their thoughts.

Although written by those teaching in Japan this is an invaluable document to all those who teach English as a second language abroad.


Compiled by Shelby Webb at the Rocket School of English.
©The Magic Crayons


Working with young children means having to deal with misbehaviour. Developing effective preventative measures and dealing effectively with behaviour problems when they arise are vital survival skills for a kindergarten teacher. Unfortunately there is no magic solution to the problems that arise in the classroom since there are as many possible behaviour problems as there are students. Successfully solving behaviour problems will require experimenting with different techniques, a positive attitude and determination.

This guide is a compilation of ideas that have worked for Teachers in the types of teaching settings that we work in. Foreign teachers in Japan work in a unique setting and face challenges not common in other teaching environments, therefore most of the behaviour management support that is available to teachers is not relevant to us. The idea behind this handbook is to offer behaviour management techniques that are directly applicable to the situations faced by teachers. It is meant to help teachers deal with behaviour problems by offering different ideas about how to approach various situations. It does not contain the answers to all your behaviour problems, however it is a great place to look for ideas and solutions to problems!

Most of the techniques suggested in this document will be most effective if used by a teacher who is usually happy and playful with the children. The drastic change from genki sensei to serious sensei will have an immediate impact on students and gumi teachers alike and let them know that whatever has happened is enough to have made you stop being happy and should be taken seriously.

This document is divided into 3 main sections: General, Seika specific techniques and Kagai specific techniques. Within each section techniques are broken down into preventative and corrective methods. Preventative methods being anything you do proactively to decrease the chances of undesirable behaviour happening and corrective methods being anything that you do to deal with a problem once it happens.


Seika. Classes taught within Japanese schools as part of their regular curriculum and as part of their daily schedule. Classes are between 6 and 30 in size, depending on the school. There may or not be a Japanese staff member present. Typically the lesson is song game based
Kagai. The additional private English classes taught at the school. The parents have paid an additional fee. There is no Japanese staff member present. The class includes the use of text books
Genki. Japanese term encompassing a teacher or student who is happy, energetic, enthusiastic and fun.
Nensho - Yochien (Preschool / Kindergarten) 1st year
Nenchu - Yochien (Preschool / Kindergarten) 2nd year
Nencho - Yochien (Preschool / Kindergarten) 3rd year
Gumi. The location where the lesson takes place, often preceded by the name of the gumi.
Sensei. Teacher.
Kancho. The fondness of some Japanese children to put their hands together to make a gun shape, then try and jam the barrel of said gun up your butt when you least expect it. Some Japanese staff think this amusing to watch.
Encho Sensei. The Head Master or Principle of the School.

The Golden Rules

If you follow these 4 golden rules you'll experience a higher level of success!

1) Follow through! If you say you are going to do it, then do it.

2) Be fair and consistent at all times

3) Make your expectations for behaviour crystal clear

4) If you choose to battle make sure you can win

3. Be Realistic

You need to have different expectations for the different age groups that you teach. Expecting the nen chos to follow the rules and being strict with them when they don't is a realistic expectation. However the nen shos will need more patience and understanding in learning the rules and more guidance than discipline when they break the rules. Try to keep expectations realistic so the students and you can be successful!

5. Shake It Up

It's advisable to have a general routine in your classes and if you do it is a good idea to shake it up a little sometimes by doing something out of the ordinary to keep your students on their toes - slip in the ghost card, sing the goodbye song at the beginning of class, etc.

6. Stop The Baby Talk

Don't use baby talk or a baby voice when you are talking to the students. It works against you in various ways. Children may feel you are talking down to them and be insulted. Also it is counterproductive. You can't tell children they need to behave properly like big boys and girls and then talk to them like babies - it doesn't make sense and you end up giving mixed messages to the children. Just use your normal voice it is probably easier for the children to understand anyway.

7. Be Quiet !

When the noise level in the classroom starts to escalate and you want to bring it down and perhaps calm it down use a quiet voice. Children will have to be quiet in order to hear you. A quick game of stand up sit down, etc. done in a quiet voice will surely calm the class and bring the noise level down so you can start again.

8. Never Let Them See You Sweat

Show confidence. No matter how you feel the lesson is going, don't let the kids know you are flustered. They won't follow you unless they think you know what you are doing. If they think they can get a reaction out of you some will try to sabotage your lesson.

10. Be A Role Model

Instead of telling the children what you want them to do show them. If you want them to sit like a mountain but they aren't doing so then do it yourself and wait for students to see you and copy you. Actions speak louder than words!

11. Copy The Gumi Teacher

Learn from Japanese teachers. Each school deals with kids in different ways. Watch what the teachers do and if it is a good strategy (and not too extreme!) use it yourself. Sometimes the teacher may sit the kids in a particular formation to get them to concentrate better and is another good way to prevent bad behaviour.

12. Connect

If students are not responding to you try to find something that they are interested in and use it. For example, one teacher had some students who wouldn't behave until one day he brought in an English pokemon movie that he had downloaded onto his laptop for them to watch during part of the Halloween party. They loved it and started behaving with the promise that he would bring another one to the Christmas party. A common interest (or at least a perceived one) can bring the students closer to you.

13. Learn Students Names

Try your best to learn as many students’ names as possible. It goes without saying that you have to know all your kagai students' names but learning the seika kids names can be very useful and makes the kids happy when you know their names. No one is suggesting that it is possible to learn a thousand names but the more you manage to learn the better.
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Amazon Resources - Teachers

Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management - book
Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners
Classroom Management Success in 7 days or less: The Ultra-Effective Classroom Management System for Teachers
Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills

Amazon Resources - Students

No, David! by David Shannon. A classic. I read this with my students at the beginning of every term
Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. So good my Principal read it to staff. I read it to parent son introductory night too
Luke's Way of Looking by Nadia Wheatley and illustrated by Matt Ottley. Outstanding book to help young readers appreciate the differences between individuals blog post >>>
Classroom behaviour management guide for Teachers

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