I am working on teaching my second year of pre-k. My new group is basically all of the difficult/problem children from all the pre-school rooms. So instead of just a few in each room, we have them all...except three wonderfully sweet children. I need desperate help in finding a way to reach the parents and the children. We are not allowed to use incentive or consequence type charts or anything. We are supposed to "redirect" them and model positive behavior. Ok, so we model...explain and keep trying. BUT we have kids who just don't respond to positive re-enforcement or even consequences. It's like they just don't care and their parents don't seem to either. I need some key ideas/tips on how to try to work with these young 4 year olds and their parents. They like to run, jump, push, fight, scream at each other and us, and are just out and out defiant!!!! I need desperate help before I quit. Thanks....
Hi Hijacop, firstly I would like to encourage you by saying that you are in a wonderful profession. There is no other profession that allows you to impact on an individual life as teaching does! You are truly blessed to be part of this profession, so, DON"T QUIT!
One of the ideas that I always use to guide my response to individuals is to ' TREAT THEM AS IF THEY WERE WHAT THEY OUGHT TO BE AND NOT HOW I PERCEIVE THEM OR WHO THEY REALLY ARE. Let love guide your every decision in making changes in their -children and parents-lives.
I feel your pain and frustration. I too have a very difficult class this year. This is my 13th year teaching pre-k and I feel at a loss. Verbally praise the students that are making the right choices.
I have observed the decline of healthy lunches. Due to Katrina our cafeteria has not been up and operating. Parents send lunch each day. It is all processed foods - no preparation involved - not one sandwich - this is so sad. I believe behavior problems can stem from poor nutrition.
Are you permitted to do time outs? They are very effective with children this age. When I taught pre-k I used a modified version of 1-2-3 Magic, which is a very simple strategy where a child gets "counted" for misbehavior...when he reaches three he gets a time out for a few quick minutes to cool down and then is reintegrated into the classroom activity.
I have taught in preschools who believe in using nothing stronger than redirection to control behavior. Unless you have very ample staff, you are going to go crazy trying to redirect every bad behavior. And the kids will be getting a lot of positive attention for negative behavior. On top of that, I do believe that four year olds are old enough to both understand simple consequences and to control much of their behavior.
There is a book called 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers that outlines the program. I got it at the library.
I feel your pain. While teaching overseas I was given the preschool class with all of the "energetic" children. Time outs worked the best for me. I got a kitchen timer and showed it to the child. He/ she was to sit on a chair until the timer dinged. If the child moved from the chair during the time out the timer was reset. I found the visual aid really helped the children understand what was expected off them. One child needed five back to back timeouts, but the change in behaviour was worth the time.
Good luck. It's really difficult when the parents aren't supportive.
I am new in this web!!!!!! YOUR ARE GREAT!!!! I think I know your situation.....I live in the middleast, kids act a little different. They are used to do what ever they want. Parents feel that....Well, do not complain they are kids and this is your job.....so you have to have a PLAN!!!!!! Have in mind that no one like to loose....children hate to loose and those kids are going to be the liders of your game....so make a GAME...The person that does that is going to be a looser..... When they misbehave ignore the situation, pretend that every thing is in under control.....say something good that you see in another kid....They want ATTENTION.....so you are plaing the game that they have....You are smarter than them....mafimischkela......
This can be a very difficult age... make sure that like Elinda said, you are treating them as if they are the children you want them to be. It may help to not think of them as "problem children" b/c at four years old, children have their whole school lives ahead of them. They are very much a product of their environment, but remember-- you are now part of that environment! You can change their perception of structure and stability and predictability. You can expose them to activities and projects and experiences that they do not get exposed to at home. If they are engaged... I guarantee you they will behave. When I taught preschool, we researched big rigs by taking notes on one, drawing it, reading about them, and then we built a "model" out of cardboard. The kids were utterly engaged-- they didn't have time act out (12 boys and 3 girls).
I'm sure that you are doing wonderful things, and trust me-- I CAN imagine what these kiddos are acting like . Can you and your team (it sounds like you have some others in your room?) sit down and look at your schedule? Maybe you need to break the group into smaller groups, plan more recess, plan a song between every single transition, take out some things that always cause problems, reorganize the traffic flow in your room, etc... It's a big job, but it could also just be a case of the things that you usually do just not working for this particular group of kids.
I did a year long internship in a pre-school that sounds very similar. My mentors mostly said it's all about modeling and language. For example:
If a child is kicking - Hold his leg and say. I can't let you kick. I will help you stop kicking. Use your words and tell me when your ready to stop kicking.
If a child is running, pushing etc. you can use the same stragtegy.
If a child is screaming - move her into the hallway or outside (in one spot) Say "I can't let you scream in the school" Use your words and tell me when you are ready to talk. (I hope you have an assistant.)
Parents - explain the strategies you are using and give them examples (on a newsletter perhaps). - It's easier to help kids than parents!
I just wanted to say, I just started a job teaching pre-k and feel I don't have any classroom management skills. I thank those who replied and see I am not alone. I have such a hard time with the children listening to me like I don't exist and time out's dont work. They just run from their spot or screem and I don't have an assitant. It is like a circus. As much positive reinforcement I am using in the classroom, it doesn't seem to be working. I guess I have this tendency to feel that when the kids are "acting up" I am not in control of the classroom. I am used to teaching older kids and can use any advice I can get. What is normal in a classroom, and how to get thie kids to listen to me. Is it possible?
I am happy that you can share your feeling online. Right now I am a student but I can understand your feeling. But do you ever explain your quideline to your kids. You have to show them how to do it appropriate . I encourage you not to quit, yes it is hard but what you are doing is you are "toughing the future" so the job that you are planing to quit is worth important than making money. Try another approach to see if they can work out. Thank I hope you will enjoy being with your students.
It seems you are describing me and my classroom. I am having the same issues you are and what seems to be working for me is trying to work with the group as a whole instead of each problem child and parent. Some kids will not catch up and will continue to act up, but for the most part, kids will eventually understand that their behavior is not tolerated by a simple combination system of 1-2-3 Magic and cause and effect. 1-2-3 Magic is effective if you follow it, read the book, it is very simple and it works. Results are not immediate but within two weeks, you will definitely see the results. Cause and effect is simple classroom management. For example, you hit, you sit. You do not follow your classroom rules, then you will not participate in music and dancing. Things like that. We are not allowed to use any reward system either, but classroom fun activities are a rewards in themselves. For example, we have a cooking activity, and kids must earn the right to cook on Fridays by following their classroom rules -which you must explain in advance-. Good luck !!!!
A good way to look at things… “If a child is misbehaving, what do I need to do differently? What am I doing that encourages this behavior to continue?” If a child continues to exhibit a behavior it is because it is in some way being reinforced by you. If a behavior does not get reinforced (aka- does not get them what they want out of it) then they will discontinue the behavior. Determine the function of their behavior. Teach them a replacement behavior that serves the same purpose for them, but that is appropriate for you. Is it to avoid or escape something? Is it to obtain something? Don’t let the “bad” behavior work for them. If a child tantrums and then eventually gets what he wants, or forces you to compromise with them… he learns that is a functional way obtain what he wants. Next time, it will happen again… and it will escalate until you give in, creating a cycle which reinforces the behavior. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and behaviors are likely to get worse before they get better. They will push you harder and harder to see if you will give in. Stick it out and it will be worth it in the end!
Assigned seats, at tables and on carpet.
classroom visual schedule… and stick to it! Visual rule reminders. Establish routine and predictability, have clear behavior expectations.
Have transition activities. Sing a song to clean up… have them walk like “something” (soldier, penguin) to the next place (like from the carpet to the table)
Dismiss in small groups. “1st row go line up” and while the other children are waiting, have something specific they are supposed to be doing (motor imitation game, sing a simple song with hand movements)
Have the children in predetermined groups (for example, each table could have a color or shape, and that becomes their “group” for everything. “red table, go get a puzzle” “green table is working with the teacher.”
Structured and consistent discipline plan... always follow through and never make false threats.
- Using the green-happy/yellow-warning/red-sad face chart system with childrens names on clips… if they get their clip moved to red- have specific consequences (for example, if it gets to red- sit in “thinking chair” for 3-5 minutes with a TIMER. If they move or misbehave before the time is up, the time starts over! Then they must go back and finish their work/activity or go back and practice how they were supposed to do whatever got them in trouble. Still have immediate consequences even if the clip is just moved from green to yellow… after they have cooled down, they need to go back and correct what was done wrong and make sure there is a natural consequence. Don’t let them escape and activity they were trying to get out of.
- Use “positive practice” (if a child runs down the hall or to the carpet, make them go back to the beginning and try again… keep doing it until they get it right. Don’t let them move on or go to next activity until they exhibit the behavior you expect correctly. If they throw something, make them go pick it up and then carefully place it where it needs to be. If they cut in lunch line or push or crawl over each other, make them go to the end of the line and try again- they don’t get their food until they display appropriate behavior.
Have a structured and consistent plan and system to earn rewards (like the treasure box.) ex: have a sticker chart for each child and they have to earn 10 stickers (immediate reward), then they can trade in their stickers for the treasure box toy. Have an actual concrete method previously defined for them to earn rewards.
Instead telling them what NOT to do, Tell them what TO do . Instead of saying, “Don’t do ____,” “Stop talking!” “No running!” …Say, “Put your hands in your lap,” “Quiet mouth…lips locked,” or “Walk!”
Have a cup of sticks with the kids names on them. Draw a stick to determine who gets called on (instead of them all yelling, “Me! My turn! Pick me!”
Use “signals” or sign language for needing to use the restroom or get a drink of water. This way they don’t have to yell out your name or get out of their seat to come ask you. Also have signs for “sit, wait, stop, quiet, listen, look, etc.” so that you can signal from across the room, or so you don’t have to quit teaching to redirect constantly.
When redirecting, use a firm, calm, but non-emotional voice and facial expression. When praising, be as animated and expressive as possible.
If children are not engaged in an activity, misbehavior is likely to occur.
Make sure what you are teaching is developmentally appropriate for their level. If the children are restless and misbehaving, it is a clue that it might be too difficult or they don’t understand. They try to avoid and/or escape the activity. If it is fun and developmentally appropriate- they will WANT to participate.
Make simple tasks into games. Time how fast they can clean up, see if they can finish their activity or get to their spot before you can count to 10 or before a song is over.
When giving a directive, don’t ever ask…TELL! Don’t say “Do you want to read a book? Could you please have a seat?”
Give them a choice so they can feel like they are in control- but really you are! “Which of these 2 books would you like to read? “ You can sit in the red chair or the blue chair, but you must sit now.” “You can sit and eat your snack at the table or you can throw it away- it is up to you!”
This infor was very helpful. My problem is that my children's parents requested for them to be put in my classroom because of my aid. the children only respond to her. I am ready to quit and beginning to believe that teaching isn't a career for me. I have been exhausted and drained everyday and haven't had a day where i can truly say i left the classroom happy. I have tried many different things and i am dreading going back after this holiday break. I will use your suggestions and let you know the outcome.
I really like the details of your response. I am having additional difficulties in the classroom and hope you also have suggestions. I came in Jan to a special education class. 8 students, 2 assistants. One of my assistants, 27 years experience, has been so rude to me that I have anxiety about going to work. Additionally, she has behaviors that I feel sabotage what I am trying to do such as 10 minutes into nap, turn the light on and go out and slam the door. Ive been told that she is the best and that the admin truly loves her and that she will get her way if I complain. The details go on and on. From day 2, when I ask her for information about the kids routine (the schedule given me is way off and lunch is even off schedule by 1/2 hour) or where things are, my response is typically, "it is your room."
Never get in to a back-and-forth battle with the students. Set your expectation and do not except anything less, do not negotiate.
Make sure there are plenty of outlets (hi interest centers or activities) that they can do indepedently-a good way to redirect and give you space. Your group seems to have a lot of physical energy, plan alot of gross motor activities. Do an alphabet olympics, simon says, anything where you define a space and they get to move around in it. If they are being defiant, they will have to choose another activity. You do not have to use a consequnce chart, but consequnces are certainly a part of growing up and learning appropriate behaviors/expectations. If a student is throwing a fit, play a game like freeze dance with the rest of the class and tell that particular student they can participate when their body/feelings are in control. If they make the right choice, give them a high five and let them know you are proud of them for making a good choice, but be careful not to over praise because they might throw fits just to get the positive attention from you.
These "problem" students probably need a lot of extra love. Find out things that they do love and use to help them build their trust in you. This may be a year where you are teaching more about morals and values rather then academics!
hello. you sent a link on a message board. It look like about 2 yrs ago! Do you have any idea what the link was? You said it was a great website by a pre-k teacher that has classroom management tips. Thanks!
I consider my class to be Pre-K Hell. I have one child that makes the rest go crazy. He has been suspended from school 3 times. There is no dicisipline. Mom admits to it. When he is out sick the day is perfect. Redirection does not work. He has given me several bruises. He bit another student and drew blood and not much was done. He was sent home for the rest of the day. i dread everyday and i don't much support. My assistant and i feel desensitized to the situation because it has been going on for so long and nothing changes. I have one parent that is trying to help us make changes and says it not fair to us that we are unable to teach the kids. Please any advice would be welcome. I feel like we have tried everything. We are not allowed to do time outs but we have tried it with him and he just gets up like he wasn't in trouble. He will hit us and not care. I have been holding a student and had him come and hit her and another time shake the student i was holding like i wasn't there. PLEASE HELP!!
If teachers feel sincere support for each other, a teacher is more likely to stay in their job. This year, I too have a difficult class with 2 children who have a bad case of SBS (Spoiled Brat Syndrome) because at they have been given their way at home and now expect teachers and other students to give them what they want and hit when they don't get it. Consistency is key to the way I handle these 2 children as well as daily communication with parents. I also give all students who make poor choices 2 choices such as "you can either go to time out or you can clean up the mess that you made". 1 choice is the one I want them to make and the other choice is one they don't want so they are forced to choose the one that you want. Catching them when they are good also helps as well has having visuals of expected behavior in class, in the hallways, in the cafeteria, etc are great ideas no matter what time of year. Ideally, you want to practice expected behavior in the beginning of the year but children can benefit from learning something old over again if you make it fun. The best advice I got when I started teaching is that in my 4 walls, it is my domain, it is my house and I can do what I want in those 4 walls. I felt in control and saw my classroom the way it should be and not what others saw. I ask parents that if my child came to their house and misbehaved they wouldn't be okay with it and rightfully so. I expect the same in the "school house".
I feel you need to talk to the director and if nothing is done about the situation speak to the owner. If one child disrupts the entire class that child should be dismissed from the center, it is not a good environment for you or the other children. If management does nothing maybe you should look for another job!
One thing that I have found that has been helpful for me is to get the kids to trust you. Some kids act out because they are scared of the environment they are left in. In my pre-k classroom, we do lots of songs and movement activities, this also helps those kids who are high energy and need to burn off some before starting centers. My kids love the Bear Hunt song ( we have it on CD) and they seem to respond to me better after we do an activity like this together, where they can see me having fun as well, it helps them to connect with me.
Another thing to try is singing songs , I feel like I am constantly singing about everything we do in the room, but it helps me to stop yelling for misbehavior. The kids hear the song and they remember the rules and routines of the room.
A great song that I love to use with the kids is to the tune of London Bridge. "If you can hear me , quiet please, quiet please, quiet please. If you can hear me, quiet please. Please sit quietly. " Change the words for whatever you would like them to do.
It can be challenging and tough at times that's for sure. But I try to remember that this child will remember my reaction and I want them to have a positive memory of me. Sometimes stepping away from the situation and taking a "time out" myself is needed before approaching the child.