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How to Chart Children's Behavior at Home and in the Preschool Classrooms

by Erica Loop, studioD

Although your preschooler's behaviors are much more refined than they were during the terrible twos of the toddler years, she may still have some difficulties when it comes to self-control, listening to and following orders, social situations and emotional regulation and expression. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website, between the ages of three and five most children develop prosocial abilities such as sharing, cooperation and taking turns. That said, when your little learner has trouble reining in her behavior at home and in school, a chart can help both you and her to understand and correct these issues.

Make a list of behaviors that you need to chart. Don't forget that you can chart both the negative and the positive ones. This will help you to better understand your preschooler, and learn about what makes her tick. Look at the problem areas and other behaviors that you see at home as well as those that her teacher tells you about. For example, if you notice that she is having tantrum after tantrum, add this negative action to your list. Give the list to your child's preschool teacher. Ask her to review your list, making any additions or notes where applicable.

Create a graph-type chart. Position an 11-by-14-inch or larger piece of light-colored poster board horizontally. Count the number of behaviors on your list. Make a separate horizontal line for each one. Draw vertical lines that cross the horizontal ones in order to make a grid for the days of the week. Start with the first day that your child is in school, labeling it number one. Continue on for a minimum of one week and a maximum of four. You can create another chart for next month. Make sure that each grid space is at least large enough to fit a sticker inside of it. The specific size depends on your sticker choice.

Write down your child's daily behaviors in a notebook or journal. Provide your little one's teacher with a similar notebook or journal. Ask her to jot down a few notes each day on how your child is behaving.

Highlight the positive and negative issues in the journal that you already have on your chart list. For example, if your chart includes behaviors such as sharing toys with friends or hitting, you would mark those off in your notes.

Choose a sticker to praise positive behaviors, such as a smiley face or a picture of your child's favorite character. Place the sticker in the appropriate box on the chart when you note your child's good behavior. If your child doesn't exhibit this behavior, then she doesn't get a sticker.

Note whether the behavior is occurring at home or in preschool. Choose one color for each environment, such as red for home and green for school. Write the first letter of each setting -- with "H" for home and "S" for school -- on each sticker or near the sticker in the box on the chart.

Items you will need
  •  Poster board
  •  A ruler
  •  Markers
  •  Stickers
  •  A notebook or journal
  •  A pen or pencil
  •  A highlighter marker


  • Look at the patterns on your child's chart. If you notice that she is only not sharing at school on Mondays and Wednesdays, ask the teacher what is going on or different that day. You might find that those are the only days that another child who also won't share is at school.
  • Offer your child a prize for having a certain number of smiley, or positive, stickers. Don't make it overly expensive. Stick to something small, such as a special treat from the bakery.


  • Avoid shaming your child for a lack of stickers. She will get the message that her behavior isn't up to par without being scolded. Instead, work on figuring out ways to turn around these behaviors.
  • Don't overburden your child's teacher. Your little one isn't the only student in the preschool class. The teacher probably doesn't have time to take notes on your child all day long. Instead, ask her to jot down some notes a few days each week or during brief times, such as 10 minutes in the morning or after lunch time.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images