All teachers have what we call a bag of tricks. After working with 3-5 year olds for the past 5 years, I definitely have a few go to moves that I use for discipline, management, conflicts, and confidence boosters. While some of these (very basic) tips work when my title changes from teacher to mom? I’d like to look at two in particular today:
Making everything and anything into a game/race.
Sometimes children simply do not seem to hear your voice. No matter how many times you say “Sit down please!” or “Quiet, please!”, sixteen four year olds can be hard to contain at times! One thing I love to do is say, “I’m going to turn around and count to ten, let’s see if you can all be in your seat, sitting up straight and tall, and have quiet mouths by then!”. I turn around and start counting and within seconds, all the children are sitting absolutely perfectly and I cannot hear a sound. When I turn around, they also have the biggest smiles on their face! You can also up “the challenge” by shortening the time or encouraging them to sit in a pattern, a current co worker of mine came up with the idea of asking them to sit BG (boy girl pattern).
Breaking it down:
One of the main goals I have for each child I work with is to instill confidence and teach them how to work through frustration. I hope each child learns that things aren’t always easy but they can succeed! Some children I work with come up to me on a regular basis and say, “I can’t do____”. The first thing I do in this situation is break down the task into small, manageable pieces that can be celebrated. For example, if a boy comes up to me and says, “I can’t cut!”. I will ask him first to pick up the scissors (and correct the grip if needed). When the child is holding the scissors is properly, some verbal praise helps such as, “Wow! That is how grown ups hold scissors, you are ready to go!” Once that is in place I will ask him to open and close the scissors. I will use modeling and hand over hand assistance as needed. Once he mastered that, I will say, “You told me you couldn’t cut! Were you tricking me?” That usually elicits a broad smile. The next steps would be snipping, cutting line, and cutting shapes. The key is to know the child’s limit and how far to push him or her. If is takes a while and some frustration to get to the opening and closing point, encourage him to just practice that and stop there for the day. Celebrate it and move forward tomorrow!
* For tasks that the children are learning and do on a daily basis such as putting on a jacket, a step by step picture tutorial is a great resource! They also love it if you include pictures of them doing the steps!
I’m interested to see which tricks I could adapt to the home environment!