Knock on Wood
All afternoon yesterday I thought and thought about what I could do to solve our issues with terrible , horrible no good very bad days at preschool. Ideally, see.. its my problem. Sure, the children are having self control issues but as teacher it is my job to help them be successful. I came up with some solutions that for today worked. I am hoping they still work tomorrow and it isnt a fluke.
Problem one : Children need clear expectations and sometimes visual clues to help them remember what they need to do. In the block center we need two people but the little guys still want to ” just play with the cars” and it is hard for them to wait. Sometimes they walk through the structures like King Kong and down come the buildings that their friends have worked so hard on. You can imagine what happens next. I love for our place to look less ” school” and more home. I am always reluctant to put up non meaningful signs or tape the floor but this is a 911 situation. 🙂 We taped off a safe zone where the blocks should be played with . We now have two block areas. The large cars and trucks are with the larger cardboard blocks. This will give more friends opportunity to play and less waiting. The two people rule is still applicable but now there is a space to see ” are there two people in the blue area?” and if there is we need to choose another center. There is also a sign with the number 2 on it and a picture of two children. It worked. We had less problems in the block area today. I even saw one friend point to the sign to remind someone that only two people could be in that area.
Problem two: We try to have very little waiting time and as few LINES as we can. Sometimes there is no way to NOT have a line. A good example is when some of us come in from lunch and the ECCRS rule is that everyone must wash after entering the classroom before touching anything else. It is hard for a preschooler to stand in line and wait. And what is a line anyway ? We used the blue painters tape in the sink areas also to help the children form a line that stays out of the traffic areas. We even designated that the boys will wash at the bathroom sink and the girls will wash at the playroom sink. When things get REALLY calm one day I will explore the sound B while the boys are in line and talk about how boys and bathroom both start with the letter B.
Problem three : After breakfast we normally have free play until 1030. To say the past few weeks have been draining during that time would be an understatement . The teachers would go from one fire to the next putting it out. That was also the time I would do small groups. About two years ago instead of doing everything as a large group I decided to split them into two groups of 8. While 8 were outside the other 8 did circle time and eat lunch. At 1130 the groups switched. I couldnt believe the difference in our world. We went to two hours a day with only 8 children inside instead of 16. Last night as I was thinking about our schedule something dawned on me. Ms Dallas suggested since this group is more lively perhaps we need to spend more time out in the morning to get some energy out. Our new ( for now) schedule :
730-8:15 Arrival ( Outside as weather permits. Dress appropriately. )
815 Ms Dallas arrives . Family time.
820 – Go inside wash hands and have breakfast, free play
9:00 Group one goes outside ( Remaining group does small group and free play )
10:00 Switch groups
1100 Lunch ( full group )
1120 Circle time ( full group. It is a little easier with a smaller group but this group LOVES circle time so it will be ok ! )
1130 Free play and start sending friends to the bathroom
1230 Rest time
2:00 WAKE UP !
215 snack , journals
230 Moms start arriving
Like I said, today went well.. really well. 🙂
We even got to do small groups . Today it was a cooking experience. We made Happy Trails trail mix. Each child took three teaspoons of each cereal and put it in their baggie and then yum….. ate it.
In circle time we talked about the feeling of being scared . We read a book called ” Franklin Gets Lost .” We talked about the things that make us scared or afraid.
The kids are loving the music in this unit. Some of the songs encourage them to act out their feelings by making faces. Remember recognizing the emotions on another persons face helps us start establishing empathy.
Dr Lawrence Kutner said ,
To empathize with someone is to understand what he is feeling or, more properly, to understand what you would feel like if you were in his situation. It is an extension of self-concept, but it is far more complex. It requires an awareness that others think of themselves in ways that are both similar to and different from the way you do, and that they also have emotions they associate with those thoughts and images.
Unlike intelligence and physical attractiveness, which depend largely on genetics, empathy is a skill that children learn. Its value is multifold. Children who are empathic tend to do better in school, in social situations, and in their adult careers. Children and teenagers who have the greatest amount of skill at empathy are viewed as leaders by their peers. The best teachers of that skill are the children’s parents. “
In circle time we also graphed which parts of our playroom make us happy. More children said the block area makes them happy.
Other exciting things that happened today.
Gage and Gabriel worked together to put a 20 piece puzzle together . Patience ! Fine Motor ! Peer Support ! Cognitive ! Spatial Reasoning !
Since we moved a block center near another area of the room we had to rethink our calm down spot. We will still be using the cube inside the door and the loft area but we added another one in the room that we encourage the kids to be more quiet in. ( Calm down spots must be in areas that a child can find peace and not be bothered by the other children. ) It is the room that holds our reading area, writing center, science and light table which by nature should be quiet activities. We created another cozy space in that room for calming down that is more quiet. Now the children have three calm down spots they can use. I introduced it one time. Something happened that made Eden upset and she went straight to our new area. If you dont have a calm down spot in your home I would encourage you to make one. Ever have those days that your child follows you around the house crying. This would be a great tool to manage those times.
Bentley was so proud ( also a healthy emotion ) of how he picked up the block center when he was finished playing.
Yes, today was a good day.