To help my preschoolers behavior I made up a jelly bean jar. Each child has their own jar with 5 pieces of Velcro on it. At the start of the day, they all have 5 jelly beans Velcro to their jar, as the day progresses they lose the jelly beans for various behaviors. At the end of the day, they get to trade their jelly beans for real ones that are placed in our classroom jar. The jar has 2 lines drawn on it. One half way up and another at the top. The first line is a popcorn party and the second line is a pizza party. As they reach the lines they get the corresponding party. They really like this and they learn how to help each other with their behavior. It really encourages teamwork.
I teach 3, 4, and 5-year-olds at an Easter Seals center. Most of the children on my roll are autistic. The SLP and I worked together to develop a visual schedule for the children. I have a picture of every major transition on a card. The card is attached to another piece of poster board with Velcro. As I am finished with circle time, I pull that card and put it in the finished slot. After removing each card there is a picture of a school bus which begins to take shape. When the school bus is completely visible then the children know that it is time to go home. I also have the same type set-up for brushing teeth and going potty. It is wonderful for the autistic children to know what they are to do, how long it takes and then what they will do next. I recommend this to any person working with any type special needs child.
To quietly gain your students’ attention raise your hand in the air and form a “L” with your thumb and index finger. This “L” stands for the words “Look, Listen, Learn”. As children see your “L” they are to raise their “L’s”. This is a quiet way to get your students’ attention.
No one likes to be singled out…even if there is naughty behavior involved. Two techniques that I have found valuable:
1. Instead of calling out the trouble makers name, say, “Boys and girls, let’s all remember that circle time is quiet time (we keep our hands to ourselves, etc.)
2. Another technique is to have the chatty student remind the boys and girls what we need to do at circle time.
When there is a lot going on in the classroom and I need everyone’s attention, I call out loudly “Everybody says ONE…TWO….THREE” while clapping my hands. Then in a normal voice say the same words while lightly slapping my knees. Finally, whisper the words while rubbing the palms together to make a “whispery” sound. By the second week of school, just about every child joins in the chant, and is quiet at the end of third, whispered round.
An idea that I came up with to solve behavior problems is that I always start my circles with lots of movement. It seems to settle the children down a lot. I found that the wandering bean bag really gets the children in my class motivated and ready to learn because they want to play it over and over again. It is the same version as the wandering ball but the children are less likely to bounce it off the wall. I am always down at eye level with my class and am constantly getting silly with them. If you get silly with them and do the movement activities with your class then they will show you more respect.