Reinforce the Positive
Having trouble finding the right behavior program? Young children sometimes have trouble understanding what is expected, and many times classroom behavior suffers. Instead of throwing up your hands and giving up when negative behavior prevails, why not give something new a try? This is an easy behavior idea for preschool teachers to use in the classroom, and the symbols used can be varied according to current seasons and themes.
Teaching appropriate behavior entails using positive reinforcement above all. Preschoolers have an inherent desire to please adults, and most children of this age will go out of their way if they know they will receive praise and other rewards for their positive behaviors.
This behavior program showcases positive behaviors. Attention and rewards are given for following directions and expectations. Negative attention is limited to the removal of rewards. Praise and positive reinforcement is given at the slightest effort to improve behavior.
Prepare a Seasonal Board
A bulletin board will be placed at the students’ eye level. The board should be able to be seen throughout the room. Each student has a name card that has a picture of the student attached. This is to help students recognize their name, so they will know at a glance how many buttons they have. Place the student name cards on the board. Each student begins the day with five “behavior buttons”. The buttons are simply cut out shapes. These shapes can be changed as often as you like to incorporate a theme or current season. For example, try apples in September, snowflakes in January, and sunflowers in August. Use interesting shapes your students will desire to keep in place under their name. The important thing is that there are always five buttons under each name tag at the start of the day. The size of the buttons/shapes should be small enough for five to fit under each name tag.
How It Works
Begin each day with a clean slate. Each student has five “good behavior buttons” placed under his name. Post and review classroom rules and expectations at circle time each morning. Picture illustrations are much more appropriate than words for young children. A daily review is important for preschoolers, since young children are just learning appropriate behaviors.
When a child breaks a rule the first time, give a verbal warning, reminding the child of the rule that was broken. At this point, begin looking for something positive to comment on, in an effort to turn around the behavior. If you see the child pick up his toys soon after breaking a rule, be sure to respond with a positive comment. Many times, once a child begins to hear praise, behavior makes a positive turn. After one verbal warning, you will remove a “good behavior button” from under the student’s name whenever the child breaks a rule. Always be on the lookout for something positive to comment on, and pay more attention to students who are behaving appropriately than you do to students who are not. When you take away a button, using a calm voice and tell the student that you have removed a button, because he did not follow the rules. Then remind him of the rule that was broken. Nothing further should be said at this time.
At the end of the day, students who have kept three or more good behavior buttons will receive a small reward. This reward could be something from the classroom treasure chest, a sticker, or healthy treat. While a weekly reward works well for older students, young children need to see a reward that day. Delayed rewards are not well understood at this age.
Good behavior comes from a combination of teaching what is expected, reinforcing attempts at appropriate behavior and rewarding positive outcomes. This behavior idea for preschool is just as effective as it is easy to do. Preschoolers will easily adjust to this program, and you’ll see fast results.