06 Sep, 2019
10 : 00
While children are young and in the early stages of their development, they are very malleable and are influenced by the environments they experience.As a school, YCIS Shanghai provides a caring and nurturing environment in which the students can learn and grow and, as educators, all YCIS Shanghai teachers strive to be positive influencers in the lives of these youngsters. With many years of experience in working with young learners, the teachers have useful insights into the development of Early Childhood Education (ECE) children and how to positively influence their behaviour. Here, two of YCIS Puxi’s excellent ECE K3 Co-Teachers, Mr Michael Joyce and Ms Kang Liang, share five techniques they use to encourage positive behaviour from the children in their care.
The power of positive communication with children cannot be underestimated, and it all begins with adults treating children with respect when speaking with them. In fact, adults should never assume that a child is too young to understand what they are communicating. Expressing affirmations and interest in a child’s experiences will work wonders in building his/her confidence. Words matter and even the way questions are phrased can affect how the child feels valued and understood. For example, asking ‘What did you do today?’ rather than ‘Why didn’t you do this/that?’ will have a significantly more positive impact on a child’s emotional well-being. At YCIS Shanghai, the children’s interest is at the core of everything the teachers do, and intentionally focusing on communicating with the children in an encouraging manner imbues them with confidence and a positive outlook.
Children are natural explorers, both physically and emotionally. Everything around them is a learning opportunity, and they are naturally inclined to test the boundaries where they can. When it comes to creating ground rules with young children, consistency is key. Children will come to learn that every action has a reaction, and to stop repetitive negative behaviour and encourage positive behaviour, it needs to be ensured that the reaction is always the same. A simple example relates to basic manners: if a child won’t say ‘please’, they won’t be given what they want. If the child’s reaction to this is to misbehave or to get angry or agitated, it is helpful to allow him/her to calm down with a bit of space, and once enough time has passed for him/her to relax, to address what happened and see if the child now says ‘please’. Consistency with boundaries removes any confusion for children, and eliminates any erratic or negative behaviour.
For children first starting school, their daily routines will have changed to adapt to the school becoming a central focus in their life. And, when children are adjusting to a new routine, it is natural that they may experience anxious feelings, but this can be ameliorated by setting clear expectations. For example, it is helpful to provide them with an understanding of the schedule of the day, highlighting what will happen at different points during the day. By doing this, children feel a sense of stability, structure, and also ownership of their daily routines. At YCIS Puxi, the teachers share the daily timetable with all of the ECE children, so they understand the sequence of when they will eat, nap, go outside to play, and get ready to return home. This sharing sets a strong foundation of security for young children, generating a favourable outcome in terms of their overall happiness and success.
It is important to appreciate and recognise a child’s progress, even for small achievements. Celebrating the small wins is important, as it shows a child that positive behaviour results in positive reactions. For a child who is a picky eater, for example, even a tiny bite of a vegetable is a sign of progress and can be acknowledged. Or, when a child does a good job of sharing, this positive behaviour should be recognised. Praising the child openly and showing him/her that he/she has done something good can inspire more of the same positive behaviour, which can, incrementally, see any negative behaviour turn to positive in a short time.
Children don’t always behave consistently and won’t always do what they are asked to do. The amount of sleep a child has had, and what they ate at breakfast are simple factors that can affect how a child might behave at school in the morning. Similarly, children who didn’t eat all of their lunch or weren’t able to sleep at naptime might be cranky when they go home in the afternoon. Keeping open communication between parents and the school is therefore vital in helping all parties understand the whole picture of a child’s development, and can help to keep young children on an even keel, so that they feel and act at their best.
Giving a young child the opportunity to experience their learning in a nurturing environment with a clear schedule, structure, and stability, filled with positive communication and clear boundaries establishes a solid, positive foundation on which they can build a life of learning experiences. This, plus a close bond between the school and parents and family members, helps ensure a support network that allows a child to feel as secure as can be, and promotes their very best behaviour and emotional well-being.