Developmentally Appropriate Behavior Guidance in Early Childhood Settings

by Christen Robinson

"Children who attend preschool are more likely to succeed in kindergarten than those who do not," according to the website of the National Institute for Early Education Research. There are numerous early childhood settings across the country, but the quality can vary. How do you know if your child's preschool program is using developmentally appropriate and effective behavior strategies? Learn to look for a few key components in preschool behavior guidance.

Builds Relationships

High-quality preschool programs take time to build and foster positive relationships between teachers and students. Teachers will be warm and genuinely interested in the students. Teachers will also devote time in the day to fostering successful relationships between students. Young children are learning the sometimes complicated rules of social interaction. A good teacher will guide children through the problem-solving process as conflicts may arise. Instead of simply taking a toy away, the teacher will help the children find a way to share the toy or take turns. Teachers know that strong relationships are the foundation to building positive behavior in the classroom.

Clear Expectations

Guiding positive behavior is most effective when the classroom expectations are clear and consistent. Spend some time in your child's classroom. Are the rules and expectations clear to you? Maybe the teacher has pictures of appropriate circle time behavior posted in the circle time area. Maybe there are pictures of classroom materials posted on the shelves and walls, allowing the students to independently clean up after themselves. Most preschool teachers design the classroom environment and schedule to encourage success. Activities should allow for student choice and contain interesting and engaging materials. The schedule should contain times for whole group, small group and individual activities.

Teaches Social and Emotional Skills

It is not appropriate to expect young children to enter preschool with fully developed social and emotional skills. High-quality early childhood programs understand this and devote time to teaching these important skills every day. Teachers should have planned activities to teach social skills. These could include stories, role-play, games or songs. Teachers will also be prepared to teach social and emotional skills as situations demand it. Good teachers expect conflicts to occur and embrace them as teachable moments.

Stays Positive

Developmentally appropriate early childhood settings do not focus on the word "no." Unsafe or inappropriate behaviors are addressed immediately, but the teacher also explains why the behavior is not allowed and offers an alternative behavior. Instead of screaming "No running!" at the back of a fleeing child, the teacher may say, "I need you to use walking feet in the science area so you can keep yourself and your friends safe. It's almost time for recess. How about we run some races outside?"

About the Author

Christen Robinson has been writing educational content and materials since 2004. She also writes for eHow, Answerbag and Robinson teaches special education, and specializes in working with children with autism. She holds a master's degree in teaching from Central Washington University.

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