My crazy Pre-K children

Discussion in 'Behavior Management Archives' started by mrs.villevalo, Apr 2, 2006.

  1. mrs.villevalo

    mrs.villevalo New Member

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    Apr 2, 2006

    I'm a 17 year old teacher aide (although I'm alone with the kids from 5pm to 6:30pm), and I would really appreciate some help with my out of control 4 year olds.
    I really don't even know where to begin, in a way I feel silly asking for advice, because I'm only there from 3pm to 6:30pm, and my co-workers are there all day, but we all agree we have some behavior problems, and the lead teacher and myself have been working on that since last June. I've been with these same kids since April 2005, the lead teacher since June, and the other full time teacher since last month.
    We have a very small classroom, and 25 kids enrolled. And we have more boys than girls (about 1 girl to every 3 boys), the entire classroom is always unbelievably noisey, and all of us are constantly having to scream just to be heard. We've tried putting heads down on the tables and having the lights out, but there's always 4 or 5 kids that have to make silly noises and the whole bunch just loses control again.
    They are also very aggresive with each other, if we tell them to sit on the blue carpet for story time, it's like it's impossible for even a quarter of them to listen, and actually sit "criss cross apple sauce" quietly, the rest are kicking, wrestling, screaming, grabbing, spitting, you name it, they've done it.
    Each and every one of them knows what the "classroom rules" are, but they will not follow them, and anytime we get a new kid, they come in very polite and we think we've finally caught a break, but they always slowly decline in their behavior and end up acting like all the other children.
    The private center we work at is very strict about how we handle behavior, and we have literally tried everything they will allow us to try. We all go home exhausted, but we love our jobs, and just need some kind of help.
    We've tried sticker charts (they could care less about stickers), field trips (which we can't really "take away" from them if they act up to much that particular week because it's already a scheduled thing), classroom movies (they end up being a break for me and my afternoon co-worker, as opposed to something they earn), candy, red light charts, everything.
    We all love these children more than words can describe, and want to have a fun, yet structured environment, instead of a zoo. We're sick of screaming, any help at all would be much appreciated.
     
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  3. lexilla

    lexilla Rookie

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    Apr 3, 2006

    I know exactly how you feel! we're having the same problem with our pre-k class. We only have 13 children total with one teacher, 5 of them are 5yrs old and the others are 4yrs old. I've been trying different approaches also but nothing seems to work. I find its the older kids who start acting up which leads the younger ones to follow their lead. One thing I tried that helped just a little bit is to give the older kids a little more responsibility. They love to help so I tell them if they're really really good they'll get to be my helper towards the end of the day. I choose one to stack chairs, one to wipe the table, one to clean off the chalkboard, but seems they all try to be so quiet to do the sweeping job lol. Lunch time used to be challenging also until I started letting them pour their own milk. Its no problem now for them to sit quietly during lunch because thats the only way I'll let them do it themselves. My biggest problem is late afternoon when parents are coming in. When the parents start talking to me, the class goes wild. I wish I had some good advice but I'm practically in the same boat as you are and need advice myself lol.
     
  4. miss australia

    miss australia Rookie

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    Apr 3, 2006

    something i've found helpful for behaviour in 4-5 y/o is social stories (heaps of information on their use on autism websites). we made our own in class using photos of the children and had stories about sitting on the mat, lining up at the door, playing with other kids, packing away etc. the kids helped design the text for them and then i created them. we read them at mat times and they were a good reminder of appropriate behaviour.

    another system i used for the benefit of students who didnt seem to realise how their behaviour was affecting the class (because of the sometimes egocentric behaviour of this age) was a happy face sad face system. this helped the kids track their behaviour and made them realise how they made adults and other kids feel when they behaved in certain ways. it sounds really silly and doesnt sound like it would make a difference but the kids loved it. it was basically teaching them that when we do certain things (like listening to the teacher, contributing to discussing, keeping hands to ourself etc) they make other people happy. when we behave in certain ways (touching other people, tantrums, not speaking nicely etc) they make other people feel sad. i really played it up with the whole "we all come to school to have a good day and feel safe and happy so we need to make sure we make everyone happy" sort of chats. 3 happy faces meant some sort of reward- sticker, praise, small prize, whatever you use. 3 sad faces was timeout etc. i also incorporated the happy face sad face system into the social stories (if we do this we might get a happy face...) and when children got either a happy face or sad face we talked about why they got it and how that behaviour makes others feel.

    with the parents coming in- you may find it helpful to have an independent activity the chn can do or a game that the older children can lead the younger ones in (like colour eye spy or a game called kangaroo skippy roo i play with my kids in aus!! just a voice recognition game). i dont know if you know that song "the dingle dangle scarecrow" but that it a great song with a few actions that my littlies loved to do alone while i had discussions with adults- just stick it on repeat and let them go!!!

    hope it helps...
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2006
  5. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    One thing that I have really learned in the past year with all the boys I have is that boys are so much more different than girls. Boys need to be physical, loud, and wiggly. Potty words are oh so funny and I still don't know why:rolleyes: . Sometimes it's a lot easier to go along with your day once you except that fact. Girls will play quietly in a corner with dolls, while the boys need to be playing cars on the car mat and smashing the cars into one another. This is how boys are, and it's just life and a fact. Of course, I'm speaking in general terms, it's not a cookie cutter society, but this has been something I have realized and learned to except.

    Are there enough times for them throughout the day to get all the pent up energy out? Even playdough or working with model magic (no mess;)) gets a lot of energy out since they can squish it and take it apart. Play large motor games when you can. Give them a wiggle time before they have to sit down to listen.

    When they make silly noises, don't give attention to the one who started it...it will only make it worse. Try to ignore things you can because boys sometimes love to get negative attention, and kids in general. Also, give only one warning for things, next time something happens, follow through with whatever the consequence was.

    How much structure is in the class? Make the afternoon structured as well when you can. Set out activities and table toys, play a game. Whenever I have a kid that is just running around or doesn't have anything to do, I tell them they have 5 seconds to find something or I will find something for them. I count to five. They usually rush because what I have, probably isn't as fun;). I have to do this multiple times with my boys each day.

    Is the classroom set up to minimize running, horseplay, etc? Keep certain children away from others who tend to get in trouble together during circle time and other times that are structured. Make a seating chart, in a way for those times.
     
  6. smilingteacher

    smilingteacher Rookie

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    Apr 3, 2006

    I have a few ideas that might help.

    1. Please try and not label children. You have set a standard to belive they are crazy. Think of them as children with wonderful amounts of joy. Negative thoughts will come out and the children will be able to read it well.

    2 "We're sick of screaming, any help at all would be much appreciated." Never yell at children. This will only make it worse. Ever noticed what happens when you yell at a person? They freeze up and can't think. They say things that are irrational for that person. Keep your voice calm at all times. Your tone is very important. Ditto on what Jenpooh said.

    John Morris
     
  7. fidge77

    fidge77 Rookie

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    Apr 3, 2006

    I have been a Pre-k teacher for a few years now, and have also tried many different tactics to improve difficult behavior. I also agree with smilingteacher when she says not to label them. I know that it is so hard to do sometimes, but everyday you enter the classroom you have to be optimistic that the day is going to be good. Otherwise you are setting your self up for a self fulfilling prophecy. (If you think the day is going to be diffcult, it will be.) I'm not sure where you live, but in delaware, my ratio is 1:15. I only have 13 children so i dont need an assistant, but you have at least two people in the room at all times. The way we work it at my school is that the assistant takes half of the children to a separate room (we call it the Exploration Room)where they have other things to do. Not free play exactly because you can choose some centers to be "open", but a little more relaxed. If you don't have a large motor room, take them outside on nice daysand on rainy daystake them somewhere quiet in the building, and read stories or do some other self contained activities. The assistants and teachers then have smaller groups to work with and you can split up the worst of the "offenders:)" The teachers get more one on one time and don't feel as frazzled. It will still be tricky because you seem to have a lot of them, but at least it would cut down. Also...figue out who the leaders are in the classroom and who the followers are. Do your best to separate the leaders between the two groups. They are leaders for a reason. That's their personality. Give them things to be responsible for. Job Charts are great (you didnt mention one, so im not sure if you have one). Inspector is the favorite on mine. After they finish cleaning, the inspector inspects to make sure everything is done right.
    One last thing...i use a reinforcement system with a "prize box". Everytime i catch them doing something extra special-cleaning up after someone else, being a caring friend etc-they get a fake dollar. They need to earn 5 dollars from me and then they can go into my prize box. i go to the dollar store and stock up on crazy stuff that they love.They can also lose their "money" for poor behavior or choices. Explain the dollar system.You could start small and give everyone who sits quietly in circle a dollar. When some dont receive a dollar, eventually, i think, they will begin to work for the money. Make sure you show them at the beginning what's in the prize box. Show them what they are working for. It has worked so well for me! Some end up in the prize box all the time, others not so much, but everyone has made it into the box at least once. It gets a little costly even though your at the dollar store, but it sounds like it's worth it for a while! Get the director of the school to reimburse you! Im sorry this is so long, i just want to give you every suggestion that i have. Good luck!!!
     
  8. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Apr 3, 2006

    One more thing...with that many children it may be best to split them up into small groups for acitvities...like having two circle time groups, etc.

    John has wonderful points as well...I missed the yelling part...yelling or screaming is definitly going to make them worse. Walk up to them and speak in a tone that they can model from. You can also try the stoplight method. They actually sell the stoplights at Toys R Us and other stores.
     
  9. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Apr 3, 2006

    I do this exact same thing. Only, I guess I'm more cheap...they have to earn $20 in my class;) :eek: :).
     
  10. fidge77

    fidge77 Rookie

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    whatever works, right?!
     
  11. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    I think though, that mrc.villevalo didn't really mean anything by calling them crazy. I think she was just using a figure of speach and trying to explain how crazy they are. I know how it feels to be taken the wrong way when you chose words others may not take the same way:).

    You've gotten a lot of great info and tips, mrs.villevalo:). Hope you find them useful!
     
  12. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Apr 3, 2006

    ABSOLUTELY!!! Within reason, of course;).
     
  13. mrs.villevalo

    mrs.villevalo New Member

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    Apr 3, 2006

    Thanks for all the advice

    1- I wasn't "labeling" them as crazy, I was meaning it in a fun way not an insulting way...:confused: I would never lump all of my kids into a negative category, not even one of them.
    2- We don't scream at them, we have to scream OVER them, like I said in the begining "the entire classroom is always unbelievably noisey, and all of us are constantly having to scream just to be heard." we can't talk normal unless the classroom is a "normal" level of noise, which it only is when there's 8-10 kids left at night, then it's peaceful.


    JenPooh, to answer your questions, they go outside once in the afternoon (around 12), then once at 3:30, and now that it's light outside, I'll start taking them out at 5:30 also. And structure, we have tons of, they follow the same routine everyday (with different crafts and toys of course) because they get out of wack if we change it up to much. Our classroom is three tables in a "U" shape, with the teacher desk up front, then three carpet around the outside of the tables, with the computer desks behind one carpet, the housekeeping station behind another carpet, and the library/shelf toys behind another.

    Fidge77, our ratio is 1:12, and it would be wonderful if they day teachers could split up groups for seperate things, but our classroom is so small, that it would be very hard to do that. I like your prize box idea!

    Thank you all for the replies, they are a bunch of good ideas I'm going to try and I hope will work.
     
  14. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Apr 3, 2006

    Even if you have to scream over them, it is showing them that it's ok to do it. Modeling is very important for this age as they soak up so much. Try to use something like the stoplight method, or something similar to get their attention without the use of noise...like turning out the light or something. Of course you will have to explain what it means before you start it. If you don't, you'll turn the lights out and they will just keep on doing it if they don't know what it means.

    You know, in a small room sometimes noise can seem way worse than it is too. I teach out of my home in a very small two bedroom home and my kids are always in the kitchen, dining, and living room areas. I have 7 of them and it seems like I have 15. The noise always seem "closer" when you are in a confined area.
     
  15. Play to Learn

    Play to Learn Comrade

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    Apr 3, 2006

    Last Year I had a classroom that had a few behavior problems and the other children were following their footsteps. I made up a helper chart, EVERY child had a job. This took creativity!(20 jobs :)) I had chair pushers (that made sure all the chairs were pushed in) A very important job for safety reasons, Of course Lunch helpers, Trash helpers (if they saw trash on the floor they would pick it up), A greeter (greeted everyone who entered the room for the day), Paper towel holder, Lots of things I just made up some for them to have a job each day. They loved it, and were soooooo helpful. I also made up center posters that had pictures of that center on it and 4-5 cut outs of children, laminated them and had clothespins with all the childrens names on them. When a child wanted to play in a center they had to clip their name on a child on the poster of the center. If it was full they could not go into that center until someone left, they had to chose another center until then. If I noticed one child was playing in one center a long time I would nicely ask if they would like to play in another center, so and so have been waiting and would like to play in (name of center). Before any child could leave the center they were in they would have to clean up their mess. Then they would take their clip and clip it to another center. This works great. It will take awhile to get them use to it, but it will be worth it. That will limit how many children are in each center and cut down on the behavior issues. Another thing I also do is, I always have a special activity for when things are going just wild. Bubbles are always fun, Popcorn nice treat and healthy, When the children are running around I reward right then and there the children who are listening to my words. I was told of a cute idea, Have a baggie of Fruit Loops or another kind of cereal. When you are in a line if everyone is quiet and in control of themselves give them a Fruit Loop. One Each Cheap and Easy and they are Happy. :) Kids dont care they like to please. How long are you having them sit with their heads down? You know, it is not age appropriate. Not saying anything bad, just wanted you to know. If I have children in my group acting out I will ask them to leave my circle and sit at the table. The table is not far from the group. I try to work with them and not against them. You'll learn so much more the longer you work with children. I have learned sooooo much. I saw there has been a little turnover in the room as far as staff. This also takes a toll on kids. Did classroom rules stay the same when the new teacher came in? And do all of you stick to one way of disciplining the children? You all need to be on the same page and take control of that room. Tell the children what you expect and why. They are smarter than you think :). You will sound like a tape recorder playing over and over but they will get it. A little advice dont give up. Think of it like a challenge and you got to win. I go in everyday forgetting about the day before. I have had children scratch me till I bleed. And I go in everyday as a new one. Be glad you do not have children who lash out at you or the others. I work with children who have alot of issues in their lives. Like I said you gotta love them. There is nothing like getting that wild child to settled down and be prepared for Kindergarten.
     
  16. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    I agree with Play to Learn that the heads down scenerio is not age appropriate for preschoolers as well. Some may think it is (but I think very few will), I personally do not.
     
  17. fidge77

    fidge77 Rookie

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    I'm not sure that punishing the whole class by taking away the special activity is fair. I know that i wouldn't want to get punished for something that the person next to me did! I agree that you should talk to the student or group that is instigating privately because they need to here you work problems out by talking. They learn by modeling. If you feel that those isolated children need to be kept from the activity, go ahead, but give them something else to do. They will see everyone else having a good time and may rethink their behavior time. If you don't give them something else to do or have them sitting in time out while you complete the activity, you're only asking for more trouble. I'm not sureOne rule of thumb that is followed that i'm not sure if you're aware of...time out is supposed to be 1 minute per year of age. A 4 year old child should not be in time out for more than 4 mins. Any longer than that and they forget that they are being punished. I think that removing children from a group and sending them to the table is a great idea because the child can still participate in the group and not bother anyone from where he is. Some kids just have impuse control issues and can't sit still for more than a minute and then they're in their neighbors personal space. It's a tough request for some to sit still. One more thing i just thought of...once you start asking everyone to line up or get quiet or whatever, dont make the ones that listen wait. The ones that are listening should not have to wait for 10 minutes for the ones being crazy to behave. If you are getting ready to go outside and ask them to get their jackets and line up and some listen and others run around, take the ones outside that are listening outside. When the others realize that they have been left inside, they will quickly get their jackets on and listen to whatever you say. If you are waiting for them to sit for circle, do something silly with the ones that are listening. Ask them to jump up and down or jumping jacks. When the others see you doing something active, the others will start to join in. When they are all participating, then ask them to sit down so that you can tell them what they are going to do next. It's much more fun to do something active and then sit down then saying "Everybody come sit down for circle". Like i said earlier, some kids can't control themselves and just have to touch. Let them stand up in circle. It doesn't change the fact that they are still in, and learning, in circle time, it's just adapting to thier needs. Children aren't cookie cutters, each learns in a different way and we have to adapt to them. Everything we ask them to do, we have to look at it as if we are being asked to do it. If someone asked us to get our jackets on and we follow the direction, then end up waiting a while for other everyone else, we wouldn't be very happy. If we're asking them to do something that we wouldn't appreiciate doing, how is it fair to ask them to do it? I see this so many times in classrooms and i feel so bad for the kids. I know that i am occasionally guilty of this, but it's something that i am constantly thinking of. I know that kids need to learn to do things that they don't like doing. Everyone has to do things that they don't like to do in life, and i agree that kids need to learn this as well. Sitting for snack instead of walking around, cleaning up, etc. But the things that really are only control issues with teachers are the things that we should identify within ourselves and work on to grow as educators. Just some thoughts i had...
     
  18. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Apr 7, 2006

    I would suggest that you first need to set limits for this group of students. I would also suggest a yacker tracker to keep the noise level monitored. It's availabe for purchase at http://www.callowayhouse.com. It's a great tool to measure the level of noise in a classroom. I would also suggest highlight tape on the floor where you want the children to sit and make it clear if they leave the spot, they don't participate in preferred activities. I would also suggest this website:
    http://www.redandgreenchoices.com It's an awesome site that allows the students to become responsible for their choices. The students are very young and they still need visual cues to help them understand what the rules are and what they need to be doing. I would use reinforcement immediately for students who listen as well.

    Troy in Los Angeles, CA
    AspieTeacher
     
  19. mary kempfer

    mary kempfer New Member

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    Apr 7, 2006

    You have to keep them buzy. Can they help with chores? What about coloring pages or creating a activity. Please remember that it has been a long day for them too. Give them choices. If you hurt your friend , this will happen and follow through. Is there a place that they can run? What about a playground? Play a group game with them..Do you have a parachute at your center? Go on the internet and look up large motors or games to play with them..Good Luck
     
  20. tuxedogirl

    tuxedogirl Rookie

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    Apr 8, 2006

    I work with a young group of DD children and we have a lot of similiar problems. Here are a few things I've found that help
    1. The "Chill out" chair. My husband thinks it's great (we work for the same company) until I try to put him in it! I explain that they aren't in trouble when they sit in the "chill out" chair but that they got a little over excited and need to take a break until they calm down a bit. This works really well for the most part.
    2. Positive reinforcement. Everybody says this, but it really helps especially if you use specific names. For example, I'll ask my kids to line up by the wall, count to five and make sure everyone can hear something along the lines of "Charity's being a great listener, and I'm so proud of Tommy for doing what I asked". It takes a bit, but it usually turns out well. Make sure that you say something nice about every kid that's following directions or they're less likely to do it next time.
    3. A very set schedule. My kids feel a lot better if they know exactly what to expect.
    4. Giving them choices. When they won't sit down it helps a lot to ask something like "do you want to sit in the red chair or the blue chair" then they don't feel like you're the boss and they're helpless. When behavior is especially bad I use choices then "You can pick up your toys or you can not pick up your toys and you'll have to sit down and you can't play, it's your choice" and leave it at that. I usally give them a few minutes to think about it, ask the question again and then tell them I'm counting to three and then I'm making a decision for them.
    I don't know if you're able to do this but another thing that's really great for them is breaking them into smaller groups with each group doing a different project and switch every 15-20 minutes. This makes the groups easier to work with since there aren't as many kids and in 20 minutes they usually get bored and difficult to control. Remember to be consistant and if you make a "threat" follow through. Also making sure that all of the teachers agree on what things are punishable and how they will punish them is best. If one teacher says saying you'll hit gets a time out and one says hitting 3 times will get you a time out the kid's going to be confused.
    Hope that helps. Let us know how it goes!
    -Liz
     

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