Kids don’t just come to preschool to learn their ABCs and 123s. They are also come to learn self-control and important social skills. All of these behaviors will set them up for lifelong success. However, it can be a little tricky for teachers to find that balance between encouraging their boundless curiosity and teaching them proper behavior.
This is where behavior management for preschoolers comes in. With three simple techniques, you can help a child learn self-control while, at the same time, keeping the classroom calm and focused. These techniques are frontloading, visual cues, and roleplay.
For preschoolers, it seems like all they understand is ‘right now’ and ‘not now’. This is because their brains are still developing. In fact, the younger a child is, the harder they will find it to anticipate what’s coming and how they’re expected to behave.
That’s where frontloading comes in. Simply put, this technique is when you tell the children what behavior you expect. This gives them a valuable blueprint for how they should act.
Let’s say you’re going to have a storytime session. Here’s how to frontload the activity:
- Explain to the class what you’re going to do. Tell them: “Everybody, it’s storytime! In a minute, I’m going to read to you all from this book.”
- Second, explain what you want them to do. “While I’m reading, you will sit quietly on your bottoms. Please have quiet mouths, quiet hands, and quiet feet.”
- Last of all, tell them what behavior you want when the activity is done. “When the story’s over, I’ll say ‘The End’. Then, if you need to say something, you can raise a quiet hand and let me know.”
This is a valuable technique that works in most situations. However, don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t seem to work the first few times. Some children may need a few repetitions before they really get the behavior blueprint. Any kids who pick the skill up faster can help by reminding their classmates of ‘storytime rules.’
Children learn so much by watching others and the world around them. Visual cues can actually be more effective than verbal instructions. This is good news for preschool classes with a lot of rambunctious little ones! Instead of raising your voice to be heard, which can add to the noise and chaos, you can use a variety of visual cues. Here are a few ideas:
- Wave your hands for attention. Even young children will naturally be attracted to the motion.
- Turn an invisible volume knob to remind them to use their inside voices.
- If a child gets antsy during storytime, hold a finger to your lips instead of breaking the story to speak to them.
- Use picture cards and posters liberally. You can pass them out for children to hold in their laps and tape into their workbooks. You might also hang a poster of behavior cues (such as a pair of eyes for ‘watch the teacher’) on the wall.
Seeing each other’s perspectives is an important part of growing up and developing empathy and social skills. Sometimes, young kiddos need a little help in picking up this skill. If you notice social misbehaviors like kicking over each other’s block castles, toy snatching, and not sharing, words may not be enough. Instead, turn this into a learning opportunity with roleplay. Here’s how:
- Ask a student or group of students to pretend to be the class teacher.
- Get down in the playspace with the other kids and mimic the problem behavior you saw. You can exaggerate it a little so it’s easier for everyone to see what’s happening. For some behaviors, like fighting over the same toy, you may want to recruit an adult assistant to play-act it out.
- Ask the students how they think the problem can be fixed. Encourage them to brainstorm solutions like taking turns, playing together, or more creative options.
- Finally, remind them that a lot of problems can be solved by thinking about how the other person feels and working together to fix things.
Learning to manage their own behavior is one of the most important skills that preschoolers can develop. If you’d like your child to be in a learning environment where they can excel academically and socially, contact us at Young Scholars Academy today.