In this article we look at discipline strategies in K -12 education and offer free downloadable resources (such as our behavior reflection sheet) for teachers to use in the classroom.

Discipline doesn’t have to be a scary word for students when teachers introduce measures in the right way and help to build good teacher-student relationships.

At the end of this article you can sign up to view our digital resources to use in the classroom for building confidence in teaching and learning  in the classroom.

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Effective Discipline Strategies that Help with Learning

How well students manage their own behavior in the class depends on their motivation.

Reliancer Colorful Self-Inking Motivation School Grading Teacher Stamp Set and Tray (8-Piece)

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Teachers need to present rewards so that students find their motivation is for their own personal gain (intrinsic motivation) and not because they deserve the external reward (extrinsic motivation) the teacher has promised.

Gifts as rewards are always fun to receive, but students should know that the most important point in the reward system is to choose good behavior because it is important for one’s own happiness.

In other words, students should be looking at their intrinsic motivation – achieving rewards, and avoiding consequences, not for external gains, but because they want to work hard for their own happiness and success.

Effective Discipline Strategies

When students are told what discipline means and what rewards and consequences are a part of the discipline routine, then we can consider rewards and consequences as one means of effective discipline strategies. 


Rewards  are seen as tools for motivation. However, this idea of rewards and how effective they will be in behavior management depends on two factors; age and the kind of motivation. 

Age (K – 5th Grade)

Students in the primary stages (K –  5 grades) look at rewards as a way to connect with their teacher and consequences as preventing them from connecting with their teacher. 

The more rewards they get, the more their teacher likes them and sees them as a good student. 

Types of Rewards (K – 5th)

Students in this age group delight in receiving simple physical rewards such as:

that are presented in a way that shows appreciation and recognition of their efforts.

Age (6th – 12th Grade)

Students in the middle stages (6th – 12th grade) don’t see rewards as important in connecting with their teacher, because they generally see the value of connecting with peers to be more important.

student participation at home

Types of Rewards (6th – 12th)

Students in this age group delight in receiving the extra points they need to get those ever important high grades! 

Students in this age group delight in receiving simple physical rewards such as:

that are presented in a way that shows appreciation and recognition of their efforts.

Teachers should be honest in offering extra points for work done that shows appreciation and recognition as to the dedicated efforts students are making with their learning.

While it is tempting to do so, teachers should avoid offering sweets or candy as rewards for improvements in learning. 


For both age groups, the reward systems should be set up so that all students have a fair chance at gaining rewards, so as to help them find the intrinsic motivation they need to keep themselves well behaved and learning during the lesson. 


When students are not fulfilling their responsibilities in the classroom when it comes to their behavior or their work, or if they are caught cheating, teachers should have students reflect on these issues. 

What happens when we cheat?

These types of consequences will get students thinking as to how their behavior should be so as to not cause problems for themselves and those around them. 

Behavior Issues Impacting Learning

Students need to be aware of the consequences of their behavior as a way of understanding how their negative attitudes and behaviors are hurting their learning.

discipline strategies for homeschool

Negative behaviors include not listening to others in the classroom, refusing to do work, or arguing/fighting in the classroom. 

Homework Issues Impacting Learning

Why do teachers give homework? 

Well the answer is to help reinforce learning outside the classroom. 

Homework teaches students about responsibility. 

When students fail to meet this responsibility time and time again, it hurts their learning.

The consequences for not taking responsibilities is again to reflect on what effects their lack of responsibility has to not only themselves, but to those around them. 

Consequences that make students think about their actions, will make more of a positive impact on a student, then if they had something taken away, or worse, made to feel embarrassed or ashamed for what they did.

Discipline Strategies vs. Classroom Management

Effective discipline strategies make classroom management easier. 

If classroom management is made easier, then teaching and learning is made easier, and that means more time for interesting and valuable discussions can take place making learning enjoyable for everyone!

homeschool classroom management

Discipline strategies are ways in which students recognize thier own behavior leads to actions which can lead to negative consequences if not managed correctly. What they are not is a form of punishment.

Discipline vs. Punishment

Discipline should not be the same as punishment. 

Punishment using harsh actions or words may be intended to correct students’ negative behavior, but it has shown to do more damage to children’s confidence and self-esteem. 

homeschooling and social emotional learning

Punishment has no place in the classroom. The attitudes and work students show in the classroom, and the teacher’s response can impact on their mental health and their learning.

Free Resources for Discipline Strategies

We provide free resources to help teachers deal with behavior and homework issues in the classroom. 

Note: The resources we offer below work best for students in grades 4 and older. Join us below to download your free copy of our behavior and homework reflection sheets.  

Behavior Reflection Sheet

This sheet has the student firsts recognize the wrong behavior that got them the sheet in the first place.

behavior reflection sheet

It then asks the student to reflect on why good behavior is important and how they will show good behavior moving forward. 

Click here to download this sheet in our digital products shop! 

For students in K – 3rd grades consider using these free BEHAVIOR THINK SHEET resources from teachers pay teachers.

Homework Reflection Sheet

This sheet has the student first explain their lack of responsibility that got them the sheet in the first place. 

homework reflection sheet

It then asks the student to reflect on why homework is important and how they will recognize their responsibility moving forward. 

Click here to download this sheet in our digital products shop! 

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Final Thoughts…

The dynamics in the classroom have changed since schools no longer allowed physical punishments as a form of discipline. 

While the threat of physical punishment may have silenced the expressions of thought, it didn’t do much in the way of intrinsic motivation – which is what really matters and what helps students improve their behavior and learning.

For more on the benefits to mental health through physical health in education, click here.

Whether teaching in the normal or “traditional” classroom or “online” classroom, discipline strategies must be part of any classroom management system. 

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