red light

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light Behavior Chart

Remembering the Old Days….

Many many years ago, I went to Hawkins Elementary School in Brighton, Michigan. For some reason, I was reminiscing the other day about my formative years while planning for this year in homeschooling. I suddenly remembered our red, yellow, and green light behavior chart. Each day a student would start off with a green sticker on a laminated card in a pocket. Poor behavior would create a scenario where, in front of the class, the teacher would have a student change the green light to a yellow light. With that, you lost 10 minutes of recess and had to stand against the building wall. Behaviors that caused this are disruption or other minor offenses. The second offense, the student would change the card to double yellow. With this, you lost your entire recess standing against the wall. A red light was a big deal. This either means you committed a severe offense or did not learn from the previous offenses. With that, you ended up in the principals office, unable to participate in fun activities. They also called your parents. (I got a red light for finding a sparkly crayon in the playground and drawing a square on the wooden playground equipment to see how sparkly it was.)


This chart had much impact on children. First, a child had to take responsibility when they made poor choices and had to change their card in front of the whole class. Furthermore, there were concrete, consistent consequences. So, I decided that this year, I would use something similar while homeschooling. Often times, I find myself inconsistent with consequences, especially during school hours. I found this free chart on Teachers Pay Teachers that I will be using. Of course, I won’t be using the signature portion of the chart. I like this for a few reasons. Firstly, it is simple. Secondly, it gives me a tangible way to notice behavior patterns that maybe I have not yet picked up on with my children. From there, I will have a better understanding of what struggles they face and find ways to address them. I am not great with remembering behavior patterns simply in my head. With this chart, I am going to create concrete consequences that make sense in a homeschool setting. I am not sure what they are going to be yet, but I will add them when I decide. Try it out, and let me know what you think! By the way, if you need help with a back to school routine, check out my post, here.

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