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behavior problems and academic expectations
Old 07-26-2017, 07:05 PM
 
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Off and on my team and I go around and around about this, so I'd just love to hear other perspectives and experiences.

Like many, we struggle with many behavior issues. Each year there are some real stand-outs (some years more than others!). So is it because kids are getting harder and more challenging, or is it because we are expecting things that are developmentally inappropriate?

I strongly believe that a lot of the behaviors we see are because we are expecting these babies to do so many things they aren't ready for. Yes, some kids are ready. Yes, many thrive and soar academically in kinder. Yes, if I intervene and RTI and work my butt off with the "low" babies I can usually get them to reach the expected threshold.

But just because some can, does that mean all should? If we dialed back and spent the kinder year working on social skills and functioning as a student and as a member of a group, wouldn't many of these so called "problems" disappear? Wouldn't it alleviate many of the behavior issues seen not only in kinder but later on?

Thoughts?


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Old 07-26-2017, 08:14 PM
 
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I do agree that many of the behavior problems would lessen if we didn't place so many demands. The problem is - we do have the demands.

I think without the extra demands, that perhaps behaviors would be a little worse, due to fewer expectations in many homes, more screen time, less attention span, and so on.

I have had the same thoughts, I just don't know what to do about it.
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Old 07-27-2017, 09:12 AM
 
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I absolutely agree. My P got tired of me saying, "Just because they can doesn't mean they should." Luckily she listened and tried to understand what I was saying instead of just dismissing me as being difficult!
I still haven't been able to overcome the demands, but I have more understanding about behaviors and try, try, try to make our classroom as appropriate as I can.
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Old 07-27-2017, 12:21 PM
 
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Great topic! Thanks for posting. I agree. Our K team has been saying it for a long time. We are requiring our students to do things that many are not developmentally ready to do. We've noticed it more in our younger boys, but it is not limited to them.

I've been teaching for a while. (Yikes! I am starting my 35th year.) I think we are seeing more behavior problems in kindergarten for a variety of factors:
  • Students are being required to do things that they are not developmentally ready to do.
  • Opportunities for play have been either removed from kindergarten or vastly limited due to a very rigorous curriculum and some administrators who don't understand young children. Some school districts around us have completely removed play from their kindergarten program. Play provides opportunities for children to develop social skills and coping skills, as well as their language and communication skills. Children learn to work in groups, take turns, get along, respect others... It builds perseverance and makes it safe for children to take risks and become problem solvers. Having the chance to explore, create, and build stimulates their minds.
  • Children today do not have the same opportunities to play at home like they used to years ago. For some, most of their free time is taken by involvement in as many organized activities as possible-lessons (dance, karate...), organized sports (soccer, t-ball...) cheerleading and competitions. All of which would be okay if it was done in moderation, but some parents enroll their child in everything. Their child never has down time where he/she is free to explore, play and imagine.
  • Society has changed. Some parents don't allow their child to experience the hard things. Other parents give their child everything and don't ever say, "No." Some parents create the entitled child. As a result, the child does not develop any coping skills. Then the child comes to school where he/she has rules to follow, peers to interact with, activities that have to be done and the child doesn't know how to handle it. They are used to getting things immediately and haven't experienced delayed gratification.
  • Some parents do not have set bedtimes/bedtime routines and allow their child to stay up late. (Some children share how they have TVs in their bedrooms or they are in the room with older siblings watching TV. I cringe when they tell me what they watch. Watching a scary movie before going to bed isn't conducive to getting a good night's sleep.) Some children get up very early to be dropped off at a babysitter's or daycare and then go there after school while the parents work. It makes for a very long day for them. Parents don't realize how much sleep some young children require so between over-involvement in activities, long days and late bedtimes, some children are just plain tired and grumpy.
  • Some parents do realize that their child has a behavior issue. They might think their child is too young to get help. They might be embarrassed to ask for help or not know where to go for help. Some parents are worried about a stigma attached to a label. Their pediatricians might have dismissed their concerns when the parents try to discuss them. Some parents might not realize their child has behavior issues because over the years they have made accommodations for the behavior or avoided certain situations. They might not have opportunities to see their child interact with peers so their child's behavior is "normal". Those parents don't understand what happened when their child starts acting out in the school environment.
  • I love technology, but there is a time and a place for it. Some parents use technology as a babysitter-it keeps their child quiet and happy. Some parents don't realize the amount of time their child is on it or don't supervise the use of technology-especially when there are older siblings using technology.
  • Today the goal is inclusion and we want students with special needs mainstreamed as much as possible. Sometimes the Gen Ed classroom is over-stimulating for some of those students. They might not have a plan in place for dealing with situations like that.

I think we'll find that most K teachers observe the same phenomena concerning behavior. Now, what do we, as kindergarten teachers, do about it?

We can:
  • plan brain breaks throughout the day.
  • include lots of movement within the classroom.
  • provide opportunities for play and exploration.
  • model, model, model our expectations and role-play.
  • use social stories.
  • create a calm down area in our classrooms.
  • educate parents through workshops, newsletters...
  • make sure there is a plan in place ahead of time when we know we are getting a student with behavior issues.
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Old 07-27-2017, 09:41 PM
 
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I've only been teaching kinder 2 years (starting my 3rd), but I agree with you. It has been difficult to teach social skills, communication skills, collaboration skills, impulse control right along with writing a simple 3 sentence paragraph, reading, math and the rest. So unfair to my kiddos and me. I'm constantly wracking my brain, scouring blogs to find ways to move and learn, play games and learn, and differentiate. It's been exhausting. My lovely husband can't imagine how I can get to work at 715am and stay until 4 or 5 and then bring stuff home to read, write and plan. Luckily, this is one of the reasons God put me here. I love my babies, they inspire me to be better.


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Kindergarten expectations
Old 07-27-2017, 10:35 PM
 
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Very well said iteachk! I've been retired for a few years but I taught K for 25 years and I saw such a change in expectations and curriculum requirements for kindergarteners and very little of that change was beneficial to the children. How does anyone expect children to develop confidence and a love of learning when they are frustrated and overwhelmed by their first year?
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Old 07-27-2017, 10:52 PM
 
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I'm not a K teacher, but I do work with K students as part of my job. I agree with you. Every year I go over to our Pre-K to observe my incoming students and I can't believe the difference in expectations and what kids are suddenly expected to be able to do just because they're a few months older.

They go from a day of mostly play at Pre-K with lessons that are no more than 5 minutes long to being expected to do rigorous academics 6 hours per day in K. The only free play time our K kids get is a 20 minute recess after lunch and a 25 minute recess in the afternoon.

Since I work with a variety of grade levels, I have always wondered if we would see less behavior issues overall if K went back to being more play-based. I would think that would really help in students' development of social skills and how to problem solve around social/emotional issues. They're not getting that opportunity now because the entire day is so structured and so focused on academics.

Not to mention, some kids just aren't developmentally ready to read at that age and we try to force it anyway, which leads to low self-esteem and feelings of defeat at a really young age. Kids that feel like that are far more likely to act out than kids who feel successful in school.
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K expectations
Old 07-28-2017, 02:08 AM
 
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I'm another who thinks current K expectations are ridiculous.

Each skill we force kids to do early replaces some other skill they used to be concentrating on during that time. Just because those foundations aren't as easily quantified doesn't mean they aren't important.

And the same goes for teachers. If we are forced to spend twice as much time teaching a child who is not ready to read, then we are not spending that time nurturing his love of learning - which will serve him far better in the long run than reading earlier.
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Old 07-28-2017, 04:49 PM
 
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I have nothing to add that hasn't already been more eloquently expressed by PPs.
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Old 07-30-2017, 12:21 PM
 
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I believe the majority of behavior problems are due to poor parenting and lack of thorough teacher training on the management of this age group.

I taught back when Common Core did not exist and I had behavior problems sometimes caused by me not challenging the student or the work being too difficult . I was inexperienced and did not have the knowledge on differentiation for this age group nor did I have the supplies. I don't think there is any one thing to blame the poor behaviors on. I also see poverty,which deeply affects a child's emotional and physical well being,play a part in their classroom behavior.
The issues are many and I think the answers to teaching the more difficult student has more to do with more comprehensive public school support for children and families.


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