I’ve had experience teaching many different age groups. One way that I have found to get children to listen is to offer them legitimate choices. For example, if a child refuses to sit quietly during circle time I would say, ” You may either sit quietly or leave our group.” It is important for children to be able to make decisions and this method allows them to do that. It also works great!
In my preschool class of 4-year-olds, I find that sometimes one disruptive child sets off the rest of the class. To get the children’s focus back on the learning I do a rhythm game. I clap and do a beat on my knees etc…one child picks it up and copies causing the rest of the children to join in. I find that this allows them to have fun with me and reroute their attention to the lesson at hand.
If you have problems with young children hitting others, this is a cute song for the class to learn and it works.
(To the tune of “Brother John”)
Please don’t hit me. Please don’t hit me.
It’s not fun. It’s not fun.
You give me an owie. You give me an owie.
When you’re done. When you’re done.
One way to teach children to count and to get their attention is to tell the children that when you start counting 1-2-3 that means that it is time for all the children to come to the table and sit quietly for the next activity. I encourage the children to count with me. Once we have used 1-2-3 and the children have learned it then I instruct the children that we will now be counting 4-5-6 and then 7-8-9 etc. By the end of the year, the children have learned to count and it really does get their attention.
In our classroom, we sometimes feel the need to have children, who are having a difficult day listening or keeping their hands to themselves in need of some “space.” We try not to use timeouts and time with a teacher is not always a choice. We decided to have the child sit at a table and have them put together a puzzle. We ask the child to go to the table and please put the puzzle together. This allows the child to refocus and concentrate on something other than acting out. After the child has completed the puzzle, we then talk to them about what the right choices are in the classroom. This seems to be working in our classroom and I hope it works in yours.
Samantha the Story Mouse
Purchase a small stuffed mouse. You can make a little house for her from a shoe box. The first day of school at story time introduce Samantha. Can everyone see her Big Ears? Samantha needs everyone to be very, very quiet at story time so that she can hear the story. If you have a birthday boy or girl, or a special person that day, that child may hold the mouse, as you read or present your story. If children “forget” to be quiet, ask the student holding the mouse, “how does Samantha like it during story time?” Very quiet. That’s right!
I use games: one game I use is rocket ships to the moon. In this game each child colors a paper rocket ship that teacher provides. They write their names on the front. On a bulletin board, the teacher uses 5 (for kindergarten) white paper clouds stapled to a blue paper sky. On the beginning of the week, all rocket ships begin on the first cloud (at bottom of board) If the child has had a good day, his rocket ship goes up to next day’s cloud, this happens each day. The children who have their rocket ships on the last cloud gets to pick a treat from teacher’s treat jar. This may seem like a bribe, but let’s face it, we all work for rewards of some kind. Before I begin this, the class has a discussion about school rules, about being kind, listening, etc. This is the third year I have used this for a behavior modification and it has been very successful.