Thursday, September 26, 2013

Save the drama for your mama

I thought that with 12 boys in the classroom, we'd have fewer issues with namecalling and friendship and more with rough play. Of course they do play rough and hit each other, but there's quite a bit of drama about who is whose friend on which day.  Today at the lunch table, a couple of boys decided they weren't friends and started arguing back and forth.  I reminded both of them of our class policy: "You don't have to like each other, but you do need to be nice to each other."  One responded, "Fine, I'm ignoring you."  A minute later, he offered the boy a stress ball, saying, "This will help you stop being angry."  (We'd talked about relaxation strategies in class earlier).  It wasn't long before they were talking back and forth nicely to each other and even acting like friends.  I guess you never know!

*Watch for pictures of our 3D apple trees coming soon!*

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How to get a picky eater to eat

Every class has its own picky eater and mine is no exception.  Just by looking at something, he decides he doesn't like it.  He's especially this way with apples, so we had a happy accident today.  We're talking about apples this week and did lots of fun things like make a chart of the children's favorite colors of apple.  Today, the children got to observe some apples(red, green, and yellow) in a bowl on a table and draw what they saw.  Now keep in mind, the picky eater was on the other side of the room the entire time; he didn't so much as look at the apples.  Which is fine.  So as the kids were observing, I was telling the kids that they would get to taste them later.  Apparently word got around to this boy because at lunchtime, he sat excitedly with his napkin in front of him.  He didn't touch anything on his plate, but he ate all three apple pieces and asked for more!  I couldn't have been more proud.

(picture from Library of Congress)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Confession Time

Everyone, I have a confession to make: I underestimated my preschoolers today. I know! If you've read the last couple of posts, you may have noticed it's been a rough week.  Everyone has those times when you wonder if anything you teach your kids is actually getting through and this week was one of those.
  So, we've been focusing on social skills for the past few weeks: we've talked about the children, their families, making friends, and had a wonderful lady from IY Dina reinforcing rules and calm-down strategies. The honeymoon period is definitely over and children are starting to test limits.  Today, one of our more aggressive children (Boy #1) attacked two others, so one of them (Boy #2) scratched him back.    Of course in my mind, I thought "Yay! He finally got stood up to!"  but it ended up triggering a meltdown for Boy#1 that lasted about 20 minutes.  Keep in mind this boy was saying some very negative stuff within earshot of Boy#2.  While this was going on, the third boy involved(Boy #3) came up to me and asked, "Can I go ask him why he did that to me? We didn't do anything to him."  I said, "I love that you want to do that! He's upset right now, so maybe later."  To be honest, I was hoping he'd forget about it because I was worried he'd get hurt.
  Now, we've all been taught that time-out only needs to last a few minutes because children can't remember what they've done.  They have the attention spans of gnats and incidents are quickly forgotten.  This didn't apply to my kids.  Boy #1 kept saying things about Boy#2 through naptime, a good two hours, until he finally went to sleep.  Finally, after naptime was over, it was time for me to go to lunch.
   When I got back, my assistant told me this:  Boy#3 asked Boy#1 why he'd done those things. Boy#1 said it was because he was mad and asked Boy#2 why he'd scratched him. It turned into an entire civil conversation, with no other fists involved.  They played together the rest of the afternoon.
So, I apologize.  When it comes to your kids, don't underestimate them because they might be capable of more than you think.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Reminder

This week, it's been hard to find something good to take away so I thought I'd post some reminders on what we're teaching children during their tough moments.  My goal this year involves executive functions, which you can read more about here: and here:

When children...               Teachers can:

Throw a tantrum                  Help children switch focus and with time, help them find other solutions
                                             Teach calm-down strategies (try Conscious Discipline)

Hit others                             Good problem-solving skills

Aimlessly wander                Involve them in a project revolving around their interests
                                             Help children plan before going to centers

Use inappropriate words     Teach and help children remember good words to use
                                             Direct focus to pay attention to good things

Run in the class                   Help children call on past experiences and apply consequences to the


Can you tell some of the things we've been dealing with this week?  I hope this helps you because writing this down has helped me too.

*We use lots of social strategies in our classroom; if you want to learn more, go find my Incredible Years crash course on both Teachers Notebook and TeachersPayTeachers*

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Whew! Another year ahead of me. Some kids are those from last year, some are new faces, and some moved up from the younger class. We definitely have a wide variety of learners. I'm focusing on executive functions and social skills these first few weeks, specifically calm-down strategies. I got some great activities from Conscious Discipline, so we went ahead and tried out some of the breathing strategies. So far, success has been mixed. One child did quite well with it; when he was mad, I prompted him to "do the pretzel" and he did. Another child was walked over to the calm-down center this morning and asked which strategy he wanted to use: star, drain, balloon, or pretzel. I pointed to each one saying, "Do you want to do this one?" When we got to the pretzel, he smiled happily and held out his hand! I can't say I blame him; food calms me down, too. It's going to be a very interesting year, I can tell.