How to Build a Responsive Livingroom

This blog, written by first grade teacher Katie Leviton, provides suggestions for how parents can implement a Responsive Classroom approach at home.

What is Responsive Classroom?

Responsive Classroom is a classroom management approach that Bennett has adopted for grades PreK-5. Responsive Classroom focuses on creating a strong, inclusive, and trusting classroom community while strengthening social-emotional skills and promoting independence. 

An important and valuable element of this approach is the partnership with the parents. It is important to have an open line of communication between teachers and parents to build bridges between home and school. 

How can I use Responsive Classroom at home?

Home Morning Meeting 

While mornings can be difficult, there are a few aspects of morning meeting that can be implemented during breakfast: greeting, daily schedule, and share. This can help build strong relationships as well as give children insight into their days. 

  • Greeting:  A greeting is an inclusive practice meant to acknowledge the presence of each individual in the room by name, allowing everyone to feel equally seen and heard. There are many fun greetings that you and your children can do—a high five, a hug, saying “hello” in different languages, fist bumps, etc. 
  • Daily Schedule: Going through your child’s daily schedule—both pre and post school—lessens anxiety of the unknown. If you have a visual to accompany the words, your child will have increased literacy exposure and begin to learn new vocabulary that frequently occurs in their schedules. Going over daily schedules also helps students strengthen their executive function skills, as they are more prepared to manage time.

  • Share: Shares help strengthen empathy, as well as speaking and listening skills. They are wonderful conversation-starting questions meant to deepen relationships. Shares are meant to be answered by all members of the group, so parents are encouraged to answer as well! Children look up to parents as models, and hearing about the goals, successes, and struggles of the important adults in their lives helps them build healthy growth-mindsets.

    • A few share question examples:
      • What’s one goal you have for school today? What will be easy and challenging about this goal?
      • How are you feeling in your mind and body right now? (encourage them to use descriptive vocabulary)
      • What’s your favorite animal? What do you like the most about them?
      • If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

Children love to think of their own questions to ask as well. These conversation-starters can also be used for quiet journaling and reflection time. 

Closing Circles:

Closing circle occurs at the end of the school day at Bennett Day. It is a time where the students and their teachers reflect on their days and prepare for the transition back home. At times, students share about something they are proud of during the day or look forward to doing the next day.

This can be utilized at home during bed time. It’s a wonderful time for you and your child to share one thing you are both proud of and one thing you want to work on the following day. 

Logical Consequences:

When unexpected behaviors occur at home, it is important to use logical consequences similar to what would be done at school. This means that the punishment directly correlates with the action. For example, drawing on the walls lead to cleaning up the walls; leaving toys out means not having the ability to use them the following day. These consequences are more meaningful, as it is easily comprehended by a young child that, “if I do x, then y happens.”


Is it important to use direct, concise, and positive language for the message to be easily comprehended and understood, rather than taking the time to understand the ambiguity of adult language. Responsive Classroom uses the “Three R’s”: Reinforcing, Reminding, and Redirecting.

Try to avoid generic sayings like, “Good/great job!” “Awesome!” “Wow!” If you are going to use these expressions, add more information about what you are specifically impressed by.

Examples of Reinforcing Language:

  • “Wow, thanks for taking the responsibility to make your bed!”
  • “Great job being ready to leave for school on time!”
  • “Thanks for hanging your coat up when you came in!”

    This language reinforces your specific expectations and acknowledges the strengths that your child is showcasing. 

Reminding language is leading statements or questions that guide the child to remember how to do things on their own, while redirecting language is direct statements that seek specific outcomes. 

Examples of Reminding Language: 

  • “Can you show me how you get your winter clothes on?”
  • “What’s the next step in getting ready for bed?”
  • “Last time, it was difficult to get your shin guard on once putting your shoes on. What made it easier last time?”

Examples of Redirecting Language:

  • “Put your book away, it is bedtime.”
    • A great logical consequence if this does not occur is minimizing reading time the following night.
  • “Get your backpack and get in the car.”
  • “Put your marker down and clean up”
    • A great logical consequence if this does not occur is not allowing crafts the next day.

Bridging the home/school gap is crucial for student achievement and teacher-parent relationships. Research shows that parent involvement, both in their child’s education and in Responsive Classroom, increases students’ success.