Why I Think Teachers Should  Ditch the Color Chart.

artistic-2063_960_720To my friends who are teachers, I think you all should ditch the color chart. Before I explain why, let me tell you what my daughter said that surprised me.

In the middle of our at home lesson she gave me a hug and said I was the best teacher. I smiled and laughed and then asked her why? Now I know she loves all her teachers and every teacher( including me) has good & bad days. But her response was ” You don’t clip me up and down. You don’t get mad at me because I am talking (she means interrupting) and because I forget to put my name on my paper.” I do tell her she has to put her name on the paper and why it’s important, but I don’t punish her for not doing it.

I get why she made this statement, and even her younger sister agreed with it. Both my kids have come home on a bad color before and were ashamed of it. My eldest always had a hard time staying on green and would come home upset because her teacher didn’t notice a good behavior and move her up. My daughter can be impulsive and struggles maintaining her impulses. My youngest daughter on the other hand struggled with potty training and when it came to grade school she continued to have issues with it. To this day she still has to frequently use the restroom. Some days her teacher would clip her down because she would need a restroom break in the middle of class after they were already allowed breaks and this was disruptive to the teacher. I could have explained to the teacher that she isn’t trying to be disruptive and ask her why she would clip her down for needing a restroom break. But I didn’t want to be confrontational and cause tensions with the teacher. Instead, I just told my child that if she came home on a bad color because of it I wouldn’t reprimand her or assign a punishment for it.

Eventually I just ignored the bad colors all together and would give tokens to my girls whenever they come home from school ending on good colors . This helped my oldest try to stay on the good colors more because she would get a reward for it. But she still came home disappointed on some days because she was on a bad color. I think this made school stressful for her and she started to have a low self esteem.

Now I know why this system is used, you all hope it will help keep your kids inline and maybe it works for some kids. But I think it really only keeps track of behavior and can create negativity in your classroom. I think rewards should be separate from punishments. That way the reward is always link to something positive. If an award gets taken away, it no longer becomes a positive reinforcement. I think the color chart may embarrass some children and cause kids to develop a low self-esteem because they have a hard time controlling their impulses.

Everyone in the class knows who gets a good or bad color on that day and everyday. If a child stays on that bad color all day, he/she might think the teacher sees them as the bad kid in class. In addition, if you forget to clip them up for something good, they will start to think the teacher doesn’t notice them for the good things they do and only sees the bad behavior.

May I suggest a new system that I use as a parent that was recommended to me by a licensed Psychologist. I think teachers should try a token system instead. For example, for every good thing a child does reward them with paper money and then create a treasure box where they can use their paper money they earned to buy stuff.


When a child miss behaves, give them a warning in 3 steps. For example: warning  1. “Stop interrupting”, warning  2. “if you don’t stop interrupting I will have to write a note to your parents”, warning 3. “I warned you twice, now I am writing a note to your parent. If this continues I will have to send you to the principals office.”

This approach keeps rewards positive and gives the child structure. The child will know what is expected of them and he/she will learn that when you get to warning 3 you mean business. I am not the only one who feels the color chart does not do what it’s intended for.  If you like to hear the views from fellow teachers and professional LCSW., click on the links below.But to avoid bias I am also including a couple links that explain an alternate approach to the color chart for those of you who have your doubts about ditching the chart all together.

Link from a professional Licensed Clinical Social Worker Robyn Gobbel:


Links from teachers who are against the charts:





So What’s My Problem With Public Behavior Charts?

Links from teachers who found a different approach to color charts:



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