Many a professional book or PD session promotes offering choice as an effective behavior management strategy. This suggestion is usually accompanied by other vague but valid suggestions like avoid power struggles or help students calm down. What they don’t tend to tell you is how…
So here’s the how. Practical ways to offer choice that have worked for me. Teacher-tested and kid-approved.
~Offer Choices BEFORE Behavior Escalates
Choices, like everything, work better before kids get mad or defensive. It is always okay to offer choice but offering before behavior escalates helps kids be more responsive. It also helps teachers feel less like they are bargaining. A kid is making loud noises while you are talking? Say, you may sit quietly on the carpet or go sit in your chair. A kid is refusing to work? Say, would you like to write your name or read the directions?
~Plan Acceptable Choices in Advance
For those tough to handle students or situations, plan some choices out ahead of time. It can be tricky to think of choices in the heat of the moment especially when kids are less than cooperative. Building in acceptable choices can help teachers feel more in charge while respecting kids. For example, maybe kids can read alone or with a partner. Or they can sit on the carpet or their desk to complete their math page.
~ Use Choices to Distract
Choices can work wonders to distract and redirect kids to what you want them to do without nagging them. A kid isn’t cleaning up after writing? Say, Are you going to put your crayons away first or your paper?
~Offer Choices You Will Be Happy With
Offer choices that you will actually like if the kids do choose to do it. If possible you should like both choices equally. If there is clearly a right and wrong choice, you aren’t setting kids up for success. The same goes for a choice that is punitive. A kid is frustrated with work and starting to shut down? Say, would you like to ask a friend to help or get a drink of water and try again?
~ Use an Invitational but Firm Tone
This goes right along with offering choices you can live with. Present choices as awesome opportunities. A little firmness helps kids know that while they have options, their options are limited to what is safe and respectful. Your teaching style will dictate if you want to be super excited about the choices or more cool and nonchalant. Positive is all that matters.
~Keep it Simple
Offer two choices. It is not your job to dream up every possible action kids can take.
These strategies help both the kids and I be empowered in our classroom. We collaborate and I am able to set the boundaries and limits the kids need. Offering choice makes both the kids and I think and problem solve.
Our trip to Bradford Farms is in the morning of October 28th. If you would like to help supervise our class please return your form, email, or let me know in the comments. Volunteers will need to drive to the farm and meet the class there.
Letter name, sound and formation of “s” and “d”
Writing first name
Hearing beginning and ending sounds of words
Spelling words with beginning and ending sounds
Making predictions when reading
Reading left to right, top to bottom
Noticing words and spaces between words
Rote counting to 50
Counting objects to 10
Numeral writing to 10
Comparing and ordering numbers 0-5
Germs and cleanliness
We have been working hard on writing the past few weeks. The kids have learned to add their name and the date to their writing, add details to their pictures, and add letter labels to their drawings. Our little writers are drawing and writing to communicate true stories, pretend stories, or facts. They are using resources to help with labeling and spelling such as their student notebook, the word wall, and words posted around the classroom. Many children are spelling words and attempting sentences!
Here are some pictures of the resources that help the kids spell.
October 17th 1:45-2:45
Come see what your child is learning!
Bradford Farms Field Trip
October 28th in the morning
More info is coming soon about exact times and parent volunteers.
October 31st 2:30-3:00
Please join us as we celebrate the season with games and treats.
Our upcoming learning goals are similar to last weeks as we continue to refine our skills as readers, writers, and mathematical thinkers.
Letter name, sound, and formation of “a” and “g”
Writing our names the kindergarten way
Labeling our drawings with appropriate beginning sounds
Using resources to spell words
Pointing to each word when reading
Choosing books and staying focused during reading
Numeral formation 0-10
Counting objects 0-10
Conceptualizing numbers 0-10
Rote counting to 20
Germs and hand washing
Fire prevention and safety
Using words to solve problems
Here is a quick tip to help students of any age interact respectfully….give kids the words they need. Literally….
Give a kid a directive… Then you say what you want them to say.
Teacher: Walk safely
Kid: May grumble or not respond
Teacher: Say ok Layla
Kid: Okay Layla
A kid is having an argument with a friend. Give them respectful words to problem solve. You may also have to give the friend respectful words to respond.
Kid: He took my pencil.
Teacher: You could say, that’s my pencil. Give it back please.
Other kid: May not respond or respond inappropriately
Teacher: Say ok, here is your pencil.
Other kid: Ok, here is your pencil.
Tone is everything here. When teachers give words they can also model the respectful, friendly tone in which the words should be delivered. It doesn’t hurt to make your tone a little more friendly than you would actually talk to help the kids really hear the difference in tone.
Often the friendly tone and problem solving nature of giving kids words actually invites the kids to cooperate when they might otherwise have refused.
One of the trickier kindergarten skills we work on is letter formation. I explicitly teach a particular way to form each letter. We learn the letter formation with the letter sound simultaneously. I then provide many guided practice opportunities. I am very picky (in a fun way) about how students learn to write their letters. Having taught second grade, I learned first hand how important it is for students to have efficient ways to form letters. It is also so important for students to be able to form their letter easily and automatically so they can focus on the content of their writing, spelling and punctuation.
The kids are working very hard at school to learn to write letters “the kindergarten way”. Our class loves to take the time to celebrate and acknowledge each child’s effort, hard work, and successes.
Here is Isa posing by her “f” which she worked hard to make the kindergarten way! Love that proud smile!