How can teachers encourage and reinforce expected behaviors?
Page 5: Providing Rule Reminders
Children must be able to apply the rules in the context of the classroom activities and routines. It is this application that helps the child be more successful in his or her environment. Teachers can use several key strategies to encourage and remind children to follow the rules.
Connect children’s behavior to the rules: Although a child might be able to recite one of the classroom rules (e.g., follow directions), the teacher might need to provide support to help the child understand how to use the rule in practice. The teacher can help a child understand the relationship between his or her behavior and the rule by clearly linking the two. For example, the teacher might say, “Isaac, you’re following directions at circle. Thank you for sitting on your bottom with your hands in your lap!” By doing this, the teacher is linking the rule “follow directions” with Isaac’s appropriate sitting behavior.
Provide precorrections: A precorrection involves reminding a child of appropriate behavior before the child can make an error. Precorrections can be given to groups of children or individual children.
Precorrection provided to a group of children
“We are about to walk in the hallway. Remember, we use walking feet and quiet voices.”
Precorrection provided to an individual child
“Zane, it is your turn to sit at the computer with Molly. Remember, we need to take turns. That means you use the mouse for five minutes, and then Molly gets a turn with the mouse for five minutes. I’ll set the timer.”
Reference the rules: When children are having trouble following a rule, simply reminding them of the rule can be a powerful strategy for helping them understand how to use the rule in the classroom. For example, if Amy and Teisha are playing next to each other, and Teisha forcefully grabs a toy out of Amy’s hand, the teacher can comment, “Teisha, remember, we use gentle touches with our friends. What can you do next time you want a toy from a friend?”
Children should be acknowledged for following the rules during classroom routines and activities, as well as within other school locations (e.g., playground, cafeteria). It is important that teachers and all adults in a program always be looking for opportunities to talk about the rules. Food service staff, librarians, office staff, administrators, and custodial staff can all comment when children are engaging in expected behaviors throughout the day.