The Essential 55

55About seven years ago, I worked in an after-school program at a local elementary school. The program was for children in third through fifth grades who were having trouble in some of their classes at school. During that time, the director of the program encouraged the teachers to read The Essential 55 by Ron Clark. I was very impressed with the book then, and after recently picking up another copy, I find I am still impressed today.

When he wrote the book, Ron Clark was a young teacher from North Carolina who had taught at some of the most difficult schools in the country, including one in Harlem, New York. The differences he made in the lives of his students earned him recognition as the Disney Teacher of the Year in 2001. Through his experiences in the classroom, he compiled the 55 rules found in this book. As I’m now re-reading through the rules with my children, we’re finding many that apply to our family.

55 rules? Isn’t that a lot? It is, but Clark’s students were able to memorize all 55, and by the end of the year they were following all the rules. Take a look at the 55, and see if there are some you’d like to use in your homeschool. Some of the rules we chose include:

  • When responding to adults, say ‘Yes, Ma’am,’ or ‘No, Sir.’ Just nodding your head is not acceptable.
  • Make eye contact with the person who is speaking to you.
  • When someone wins a game or does something well, congratulate that person.
  • Always say thank you when you are given something.
  • If someone bumps you, even if it was not your fault, say “Excuse Me.”
  • If you approach a door and someone is following you, hold open the door.

These sound like basic life skills and manners that our children should have, but we’ve realized that they are things my children don’t always do and things I tend to overlook. So…we’ve begun compiling our 55 rules — or however many we come up with in the end.

Do you need some rules for your classroom? Check out this book, and then go from there!

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