In the early grades at Spanish Infusión School we use a variety of strategies to assist children in making wise choices as they navigate their days at school. Every year, children help set up classroom rules with the guidance of the teacher to reflect an atmosphere where learning can take place. It’s always fun to watch, particularly children in kindergarten and first grade as there is definitely a learning curve as to how successful individual class members are following the rules. Teachers use a variety of strategies to assist with this learning objective.
Both of our kindergarten classes use a system to help children focus on appropriate behavior in class. In clase Quino, Holly has developed a Cube system where each child is given five small cubes. The goal is to have the same five cubes at the end of the day. This is accomplished by listening and following directions, not interrupting others, staying in control of your body, following directions, etc. If a child missteps, they are given a reminder. If it then happens again, they must give up one of their cubes. We’ve seen this really work well. Most of the children keep all of their cubes for the day and can choose “free time activities” during Mi tiempo. If a child loses more than half of their cubes then they lose some of their free time – a logical consequence.
In clase Chavez, Jess has incorporated Pedro pesos as a reward system where children can collect these special tokens for appropriate classroom behaviors or lose some of the Pedro pesos for missteps and of course always after a reminder. The Pedro pesos serve as a way to count by 1’s, 5’s and 10’s; to practice counting and then using pesos to buy something at the end of the week. Jess has children create personal goals that they work on each week and classmates work to support their peer’s goals.
Parents can support this process by praising their child for following directions or reminding them to do so if they did not follow the directions. The best way to do this is a quick check in, followed by a question about what did you learn in math today? Did you read a story that you liked? How art class was and what are you working on? The point is that for all of the children to have a really fun and successful day they need to be aware of their focus and when they are out of focus that it impacts them and others. This is a first step developmentally and transitions in the older grades to other models.
In first grade we use Zones of Regulation which “is a systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones. The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solves conflict.” (Zones of Awareness, website) This system uses four colors to help a child or full classroom monitor their feelings and impulses: blue, yellow, green and red. I encourage parents to take a look at their website as it is a tool that can be used at home too.
As children progress through their years at SÍ School, we hope that they can take from these early interventions and get to a point where they can be more in control and aware of their behaviors and of those around them. Just as all children do not learn to read at the same time, not all children grasp these behaviors at the same time. Our teachers constantly work to find ways to meet both the individual needs of children and the entire class needs. These mentioned models complement the use of Responsive Classroom and we will continue to explore best practices around these issues.
Head of School