Behavior management for 3-year-olds in the classroom

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Behavior management for 3-year-olds in the classroom
Helping preschoolers behave will encourage positive action throughout their schooling. (Crying Toddler image by Mary Beth Granger from Fotolia.com)

Before students enter into kindergarten, they may attend preschool, an early stage of child education where the day is focused on establishing foundational learning patterns. Working with children between the ages of three and five, a time when young minds are rapidly developing, preschool educators teach social skills and self-confidence, paving the way for success in K-12 schooling. Positive behaviour management can help reinforce learning in these critical areas.

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Rhyming Announcements

Effective classroom management is a critical skill in managing 3-year-old children. Commanding the attention of distracted, high energy preschoolers can be achieved by employing quick rhyming announcements such as "one, two, three, eyes on me!" or "tootsie roll, lollipop, you're all talking and need to stop." The playful nature of the rhythmic phrases said aloud is pleasing and non-confrontational, allowing children to tune in to the message they are being given. Choose a phrase for your class and use it consistently so students know what to expect and how to behave.

Tattle Thursdays

Three year olds are learning to socialise and constantly toying with the limits of what is and is not acceptable. This can lead many children to tattle on others for petty and minor interactions between peers. Dealing with each case can become a distraction and prevent children from learning to cope with peer social interactions. Communicate to your class that tattling will only be permitted on Thursdays. Gradually, students will learn to handle issues with their peers directly and will need tattle Thursdays less. In addition, tattle Thursdays reinforces learning the days of the week.

Positive Choices

Giving 3-year-olds positive choices helps strengthen their ability to make decisions that they can benefit from. When a child is misbehaving, allowing choices in the outcome of her situation allows her to assume control and move from a place of negativity to a positive place she chooses. You can suggest appropriate choices or allow the child to offer choices she finds acceptable. If she suggests choices that aren't feasible, help her understand why.

Behaviour Bears

Behaviour bears is a positive behaviour management strategy that is completely customisable to your setting and students. It reinforces learning of colours and shapes and involves parents. Implement behaviour bears by designating a visible and child-accessible place for a pocket chart -- such as the classroom door. Assign one pocket to each student. In another area, keep a set of coloured bears made of paper or any material that is handy. Each colour will represent the positive behaviour you want to see from each child: red for putting away toys, blue for sitting quietly and green for helping with cleanup. Finally, hang a guide to what the bear colours mean with some descriptive text such as, "Today the teacher saw me." Below the this text, show each bear type next to its meaning.

When you witness a child doing the right thing, tell them they've been awarded a bear and instruct them to take the appropriate colour and hang it in their pocket on the chart. At the end of the day, parents can spend a few minutes with their child looking at the bears before the box is reset for the next day.

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