“Push on the cap until you hear a *snap*!”

This is one of the standard ‘scripts’ that I use with children when we’re working on behavior/rules/procedures. 

This is one of the first things we learn at preschool, since setting out markers and blank paper is an instant hit – especially when they are brand-new markers full of luscious color!  We learn this little saying in the big group, and I demonstrate it, asking them to be very quiet to hear if it’s really snapping.  Then I show them a dried-out marker and explain that that’s what happens when the caps fall off.  It’s wonderful how they come up to me throughout the day and say, “Listen!” -then demonstrate the snap.


At naptime I read a few pages from chapter books – Charlotte’s Web, The Boxcar Children, and the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Last year I came to a section in Ramona the Brave where Ramona is talking about her first grade teacher, who dislikes her and makes it known.  “Ramona dreaded school because she felt Mrs. Griggs did not like her, and she did not enjoy spending the whole day in a room with someone who did not like her, especially when that person was in charge.”


I know that there have been children that get under my skin – it’s a fact of life! But put yourself in the shoes of the child who is ALWAYS getting called out for misbehaving. If redirection and discipline is always done in a negative fashion, what is that child learning everyday? “I always get in trouble at school. My teacher is always mad at me. The other kids know I’m naughty.”

FRONTAL LOBE!!! Yes, you will always have children who need more guidance than others. But think – Jesus loves this child so much that He died for this child. How will you treat a fellow child of God? How would YOU want to be treated?

The Heirarchy of Time Outs

This post is a thinking-out-loud-on-paper, but I am thinking about when I first started and was clueless about when to ‘come down hard’ on children, and when to let things slide.  So here goes:

            Teacher action (going up the scale of severity)   

  • Say child’s name,  head shake  (Used often)
  • Say child’s name, describe behavior & remind what to do.  Ex: Peter, you’re running in the room.  Use your walking feet, please.   (Used often)
  • Say child’s name, describe behvior, redirect.  Ex: Louis, I’ve asked you three times to stop poking David.  Please choose another center.   (Used when appropriate)
  • For Time Out – be brief.  If it is for not listening, say if Louis stays and pokes David again, say firmly (but not meanly) Time out.  You didn’t listen when I asked you to stop.  (I’ll do another post about the philosophy of Time Outs another time)

Along with these, but it depends on when they need to be plugged in, we have the child’s consequenses/’actions to solve’ list, again, going up the scale.

  • Apologize (Used often)  We also encourage the offended to say, “I forgive you.”
  • Apology and offer to correct.  (I help them learn these ‘scripts’.)  Ex: Sorry I knocked down your building.  Can I help you fix it? (Used often)
  • Apology, offer to correct, then redirection.  (When the above seems to happen more than once.)
  • Time Out, then apology.  (Again, when hitting, or severe disobedience [I’ll have to define that].  The apology comes after a brief talk with the teacher.)
  • Office Visit (Rare.  When I need a little help letting the child know that this is becoming a big problem. We talk with our director, then return to the room.)
  • Office Time Out.  (Rare.  Child sits with our director and she speaks to them.)
  • Note/Visit with parent.  This is different from our everyday chats – it’s a mini-conference to let them know what we’re working with.  (I’ll post something seperate about how to approach these.)

I’ll edit this as it becomes more clear.  Remember, it’s a work in progress!

“If someone asks if they can play, the answer is always ‘Yes’.”

A few years ago I heard a story on the radio about a kindergarten teacher who was honored for creating a bully-free environment, and one of the tools she used was ‘if someone wants to play, you can’t say no’.

Personally I was a little steamed, because we’d been saying that – and phrased in the positive way, no less – and I never saw a dime! Just kidding. Really, this will help SO much. Preschoolers are at an awkward stage – it’s the time when they learn that just because Friend A is playing with Friend B, they haven’t stopped being your friend. Many of them won’t understand that before they leave your class, but this is one tool that helps them interact.

“Please stop.”

This is one of the standard ‘scripts’ that I use with children when we’re working on behavior/rules/procedures.

This is posted in Classroom Management, but all the posts under Scripts are directly related to this.

The first day of school, and every day thereafter, I tell the children that if someone is doing something they don’t like, say “Please stop”.  I also tell them that if someone asks them to please stop _________, they should stop.

There is magic in those words, because it gives the child the power to take care of a situation.  As the year goes on, when a child comes to tell me what ________ did, I ask “Did you like that?”  “No.”  “What can you say?”  (Child turns around to the offender) – “Please stop”.  And 90% of the time that’s all it takes!  I don’t have to solve it for them – they take care of it.