How to Help Kids Make Good Choices

Have you ever told a child to “make good choices?” How did that work out for you? Most teachers struggle with challenging behaviors such as this on a daily basis.

Making good choices is a lot like learning how to tie shoes for young children; it’s a skill that develops gradually over time as they mature. Young children in preschool and kindergarten need lots of modeling and support when it comes to learning how to make good choices. They don’t intend to make bad choices; they just need more practice and support making good ones.

These are some tips that will help you support your students as they learn how to make good choices.

How to Teach Kids to Make Good Choices
{Disclosure} Amazon links included below for your convenience.

Welcome to the challenging behaviors book study. For those of you just joining us, the details about the book study can be found here.

It’s never too late to join the book study! Because it’s a virtual discussion the posts will always be available to you. Karen at Prekinders has put together a book study guide that lists all of our book studies and includes links to each discussion.

The book Teaching with Love and Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk was used as a resource for this post. I encourage you to read this book if you would like to learn more about how to empower children and help them learn how to make good choices.

Challenging Behaviors Book Study: Teaching with Love and Logic

What is Love and Logic?

Love and Logic is a very simple philosophy, it’s all about developing stronger relationships with children. In the book Teaching with Love and Logic, the authors show us how creating stronger relationships with students can lead to more cooperation and a more rewarding teaching and learning experience for everybody.

Basically, Love and Logic shows you how to avoid power struggles and offer choices to children. Instead of controlling children’s behavior and making all their choices for them, Love and Logic empowers children to make their own choices. When children feel empowered they learn more, bottom line. They learn more because less time is spent trying to control their behavior.

The Truth About Behaviors Charts in the Classroom
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you here- those cute little behavior charts hanging on the classroom wall that use cards, tickets, or clothespins to broadcast to the world who is and isn’t making good choices are tools that control children’s behavior. They don’t change children’s behavior, they just track the behavior. The kids who are “good” are always on “green” and the kids who aren’t are always on “red” and nothing ever changes. Valuable learning time is wasted remembering to move clips and fill out charts. If you’re looking for a way to work smarter instead of harder Love and Logic allows you that freedom.

Challenging Behaviors Book Study: Love and Logic
Do you know what other population gets controlled in that way? Prisoners. Inmates in prisons are told when to eat, sleep, and shower. Inmates don’t get to make choices; all of their choices are made for them. Many inmates are in prison because they had difficulty making good choices. Do you see a pattern here? As teachers, we are not prison guards controlling inmates, our job is to guide and facilitate learning – and that includes behavior.

Challenging Behaviors Book Study: How to Offer Kids Choices in the Classroom

How to Offer Kids Choices

Now that you know what Love and Logic is all about here are some ways you can use it in your classroom to help your students make good choices.

Making a demand: Share the cars!
Offering a choice: Would you rather have the blue car or the red car?

“When we offer kids a choice instead of making demands, no power struggle begins. When we make a demand we own the wise choice, leaving the child with only one way to win the power struggle- by making a foolish choice. When presented with wise choices the child will be successful and feel empowered.”

You can empower children by offering them choices throughout the day, not just when behavior issues arise. For example:

  • Would you rather sing Old MacDonald or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star?
  • Would you rather read No, David! or Mrs. Wishy Washy?
  • Would you rather use crayons or colored pencils?

By offering small choices you are making deposits in a “savings account” from which you can later make withdrawals. Simply put, offer small choices throughout the day and when it comes time to offer a bigger choices involving behavior you will have already established a predictable routine that sets kids up for success.

Enforceable Statements

Enforceable statements are invitations instead of demands. When you demand that a child does something they may refuse because they feel controlled, but when you invite them to do something they are much more likely to do it. Here are some examples:

Demand: Stop playing in the bathroom!
Enforceable statement: I’ll be taking everybody who is ready to the playground in a moment.

Demand: We’re not going to lunch until it’s quiet!
Enforceable statement: We’ll go to lunch when its quiet. That’s ok, I can wait.

What to Do if Kids Don’t Make Good Choices

  • Avoid making demands (Stop talking!)
  • Avoid making threats (If you don’t stop talking you’re going to time out!)
  • Avoid power struggles (arguing “Yes you did!” “No I didn’t!”)
  • Offer choices (ones you can live with)
  • Use logical consequences

I love this quote from page 20,
“You can’t make people angry and sell them something at the same time.”

Think of your students as customers and you’re trying to sell them something- learning! They’re not going to buy it if they’re angry with you, are they?

Teaching with Love and Logic has so much more to offer, these tips are just a brief glimpse into a philosophy that I have embraced with great success for many years. I invite you to explore it with an open mind and adopt these techniques into your classroom.

Graduate Credit

Don’t forget, you can earn graduate credit from Concordia University for your participation in the book study, learn more and sign-up HERE. If you have any questions about earning graduate credit from Concordia University please read the Frequently Asked Questions. You can sign-up at any time.

Happy reading and stay tuned for our next topic which will be hosted by Kathy Griffin of Kathy Griffin’s Teaching Strategies on Friday, July 18.

Challenging Behaviors Book Study Button
Check out the links below for more discussion about challenging behaviors in the classroom.

How to Get Kids to Pay Attention

Have you ever tried reading a book to a large group of young children and felt like you were playing whack-a-mole? It seems like they just keep popping up and interrupting- especially at the beginning of the year!

As teachers and parents we all know how difficult it can be for young children to pay attention.

Getting kids to pay attention is one of the most challenging behaviors we have to face in the preschool or kindergarten classroom.
How to Get Kids to Pay Attention
{Disclosure} Amazon links included below for your convenience

This post is part of our summer book study on challenging behaviors in the classroom If you’re just joining us, all the book study details can be found here.

The book Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong was used as a resource for this post. If you would like to learn more about how incorporating strategies that address Multiple Intelligences can help keep kids engaged and on-task, I encourage you to read this book.

Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom

Learning Styles

Have you ever had “that kid” in your class? You know, the one who was like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Chances are; that kid had a different learning style, one that wasn’t easily identifiable.

Learning styles- or Multiple Intelligences- are the different ways in which each person learns best. Think about yourself as a student, did you struggle with reading? Math? How do you learn best?

In his book Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, author Thomas Armstrong lists the eight intelligences; they are:

  • Linguistic- Uses words effectively orally or written.
  • Logical-mathematical- Capacity to use numbers effectively.
  • Spatial- Ability to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately.
  • Bodily-kinesthetic- Expertise in using one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings (e.g. actor, athlete, dancer).
  • Musical- Capacity to perceive, discriminate, transform and express musical forms.
  • Interpersonal- Ability to perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, and feelings of others.
  • Intrapersonal- Self-knowledge and ability to act and adapt on the basis of that knowledge.
  • Naturalist- Expertise in the recognition and classification of numerous species in the environment.

If you don’t think this book is about early childhood, I encourage you to take a look at the table on pages 10-11. Listed in the developmental column are the ages at which these intelligences arise. It’s fascinating to note that almost all of them emerge in early childhood!

Since young children can’t tell us how they learn best, it’s up to us to identify their different learning styles and adapt our teaching methods to include strategies that will help them learn.

When you take the time to identify the different learning styles of the children in your classroom, you will be meeting their individual needs and they are more likely to be engaged and attentive.

Which ones best describe you? I’m linguistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.

Getting Kids to Pay Attention in the Classroom

Teaching Tips

If we want kids to sit still and listen to a story, but we just spent ten minutes doing calendar, it’s going to be a tough sell. Many will have difficulty with remaining still for that long because their attention spans are small, just like they are.

Here is my favorite tip for smooth transitions using Multiple Intelligence strategies from the book:

  • Linguistic- Have a daily schedule with printed words displayed in your large group area.
  • Musical- Sing a catchy transition song or chant (see words below).
  • Bodily-kinesthetic- Wave your hands in front of you like the “wipers on the bus” as you sing the song.
  • Spatial- Include pictures on your daily schedule and clip a clothespin to the corresponding picture as you make the transition.
  • Logical-mathematical- After transitioning, count how many more segments are left in the day.

Transition Chant(traditional tune heard at sporting events- of mixed origins as relayed by Dr. Jean)

Nah, nah, nah, nah,
Nah, nah, nah, nah,
Hey, hey, hey,
(insert word) time!

If you take the different learning styles of your children into consideration, transitions will be less difficult to manage.

On page 114 of Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, Armstrong has some fantastic transition tips for those of you who like to use classical music in the classroom.

The following are suggestions for inviting children to help create and communicate classroom rules using Multiple Intelligences:

  • Linguistic- Write or print the rules and post them in the classroom.
  • Logical-mathematical- Number each rule.
  • Spatial- Use symbols to represent each rule, such as a picture of a shoe to represent walking.
  • Bodily-kinesthetic- Give each rule a specific gesture, such as finger to lips, two fingers to represent walking, etc.
  • Musical- Set the rules to a tune or a chant and sing them with your class.

Once you have incorporated Multiple Intelligences into your classroom rules, you will have greater success gaining the children’s attention and establishing a cooperative classroom environment.

Importance of Balanced Schedules in the Classroom

Reasons Some Kids May Not Pay Attention

  • The classroom schedule may not be well balanced.
  • For many young children, your classroom will be their first experience in a large group setting. This can be overwhelming and over-stimulating for some, but the novelty will begin to diminish gradually over time.
  • Some children may not be native English speakers. Second language learners will need more time and patience as they begin to absorb their new language. It’s not that they won’t pay attention; it’s that they don’t understand what is being said.
  • Some children may be used to one-on-one attention received at home. They are the center of the universe in their own home but are just one of many in the classroom. It may take time for these children to get used to being in a large group setting.
  • Just because a child is physically four or five years of age does not mean that is the level at which they are functioning. Children with special needs and developmental delays must be given more time and patience as they develop the ability to focus and pay attention.

Activities in the classroom need to be varied. If the daily schedule is not balanced with movement and listening activities, young children will have more difficulty paying attention.

The good news is that gradually, their attention spans will increase and they will be able to focus for longer periods of time. All children, regardless of their native language or delays will benefit from engaging songs and fingerplays that incorporate movement.

What to Do if Kids Aren’t Paying Attention

  • Avoid raising your voice.
  • Avoid making threats (“If you don’t pay attention you will have to go to time out!”).
  • Avoid command statements (“Pay attention!”).
  • Use positive phrases with a calm tone. For example “we’re going to read a fun story now about a boy who buys some magic seeds! The children who are ready to listen to the story are looking at the book.”
  • Sing a fun song or fingerplay.
  • Invite children to select their favorite song or fingerplay.
  • Take each child’s strengths into consideration. If a child is not paying attention and you know that child responds best to bodily-kinesthetic activities, use a quick movement activity to capture his or her attention. For example, “If you can hear me clap your hands.”

Graduate Credit

Don’t forget, you can earn graduate credit from Concordia University for your participation in the book study, learn more and sign-up HERE. If you have any questions about earning graduate credit from Concordia University please read the Frequently Asked Questions. You can sign-up at any time.

Happy reading and stay tuned for our next topic which will be hosted by Kathy Griffin of Kathy Griffin’s Teaching Strategies on Wednesday, July 9.

Challenging Behaviors Book Study Button
Explore the links below for more discussion about challenging behaviors in the classroom.

5 Hands-On Strategies for Learning

Did you know there are strategies you can use that will make learning new concepts like identifying letters or numbers easier for young children in your preschool or kindergarten classroom?

When all the different senses are incorporated into a learning activity it is more likely that the child will remember the concept that is being taught.

Hands On Learning Strategies

Learning Styles

Everybody learns differently. Some people learn best when they touch and manipulate objects, they are tactile learners. Others do better when they can see and imitate, they are visual learners. Then there are auditory learners who excel when listening to verbal instructions or audio books. Kinesthetic learners like to move.

When all of these strategies are used together they are often referred to as multi-sensory. Multi-sensory strategies make concepts “stick” in our long term memory. When we see, hear, say, and do something we’re activating all of our senses at once.

5 Hands-On Strategies for Learning

It is helpful to follow the sequence below when using these tactile activities:

  • The symbol (number or letter) is shown to the child first
  • The name of the symbol is spoken aloud and repeated by the child
  • The child makes the symbol using the materials provided while saying the name of the symbol aloud
  • Proper letter or number formation is reinforced

Be sure to have the child say the name of the letter or number as they are tracing the letter with their finger to ensure that the touch to brain connection is not broken. When children can touch the letters and numbers and feel their shapes, they will begin to recognize them more quickly.

Multi-Sensory Learning DIY Gel Bags

Gel Bags

These gel bags are so easy to make and the kids just love them!

Gel Bag Supplies

  • Zip top sandwich bag
  • Clear hair gel (dollar store)
  • Food coloring
  • Packing tape

Squeeze clear hair gel into the sandwich bag and add your food coloring of choice. Squish the gel and the food coloring around to even out the color. Force any extra air out of the bag and seal the top closed, then place a piece of packing tape over the seal. Place the bag on a flat surface like a table and smooth it out.

Children can gently press their index finger in the bag to write numbers, letters, or sight words.

Multi-Sensory Learning Salt Trays

Salt Trays

This is another super simple activity that requires hardly any prep! Upcycle frozen dinner trays and pour a little salt or cornmeal into the bottom of the tray, just enough to cover the bottom.

Children can use their index finger to write letters, numbers, or sight words in the tray.

Multi-Sensory Learning with Sandpaper Numbers and Letters

Sandpaper Letters and Numbers

You can find sandpaper at the dollar store. Trace and cut letters or numbers out of the sandpaper and glue them to squares of thick cardstock or poster board. You could also use those textured, rubber placemats instead of sandpaper if you prefer.

Invite the children to use their index finger to trace the letters, numbers or sight words.

Multi-Sensory Learning with Wikki Stix

Wikki Stix

Wikki Stix are always a favorite with young children! They come in a wide variety of colors and have a wax like texture that invites touching and manipulating.

These waxed strings can be easily shaped and placed on top of alphabet, number, or sight word cards. I created these free, printable uppercase Wikki Stix cards for you to use with this activity.

Multi-Sensory Learning DIY Glue Numbers and Letters

Glue Numbers and Letters

These glue cards are very easy to make, you only need a few ingredients you probably already have on hand! Here’s the tutorial for making your own tactile number and letter cards with glue.

More Learning Resources:

Join 20,000+ other teachers and get great ideas delivered to your inbox!