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TAMA2010 07:52 PM 09-30-2010
Hi there. I've been working at a Daycare almost a year now taking care of after care children. I have about seventeen (some are either coming or going) in a room I was told is meant for nine. Their ages range from 5 to 11 and so do their interests. We just got inspected by APPLE and I found out that I am supposed to be teaching them brief lessons or giving them activities to do everyday.
One problem is discipline. The children all know the rules against hitting, name calling and such. They also know that the worst I can do is place them in time out or send them to the Directors Office, sometimes I ask them to write sentences to help them reaffirm that they should "use gentle hands". So they feel they can hit eachother, wander around the room or be defiant and doing the time is no big deal to them. But I want a safe and happy environment for the children and I am afraid that will not happen. The rules against hitting are clear and I've followed my training to the letter, giving reminders/warnings first for minor offenses, not shouting (as much as possible in the noisey room) and having discipline/structure rather than punishment but it doesn't seem to help.
Maybe its because I'm new but I just need some advice from someone more experienced. How can I better manage this dynamic class? Should I be more of an authoritarian or should I just continue on?
QualiTcare 10:58 PM 09-30-2010
sounds like a situation i was in at one point. it was me with up to 20 children ages 5-12. it was total chaos. it was hell actually.

one thing i did was have group time every day. i called it a "meeting." we would go around the circle (i had them sit in a circle) and do something called "compliments and appreciations." it takes some practice, but it works once you get it going. i started out giving an example of what a compliment was and what an appreciation was. "judy, i really like your shirt," or "judy, i really appreciate you sharing your blocks with me when there wasn't enough."
each child would address another child and give them either a compliment or an appreciation. i also told them i would be watching them to see who was doing something nice, and during our "meetings" that is who i would give "an appreciation" to. "judy, i saw how you ran over to keith when he fell down outside and hurt himself. that was really nice."

that room did a 360 in about a week. kids were tripping over themselves to do nice things for each other. they were being nice in hopes they would get a compliment/appreciation from a peer during our meeting. i also sat a jar out so they could put a note in it if someone did something nice. i'd take the jar to the meeting and pull out the notes and read them to the class. not only did the meetings take up time (which meant less time for chaos) but when they were playing, they were constantly thinking about what nice thing they were going to say AND get recognized for during our meeting.

we also did things like play hot potato to music or i'd read jokes from a joke book (things kids of all ages liked). something else i did was have reading groups. the kids who knew how to read could pick a spot and read to themselves. the older (10-12 kids) who could read really well were responsible for a reading group where they would read a story to 3-4 younger kids that were 5-7 years old. sometimes, i'd read a story to the group, or i'd pick an older kid to read a story to the whole group. they LOVED it. i had one boy who was a terror, but he was an awesome reader. he'd beg me to read every day to the rest of the kids.

the point of the meetings was to create an environment where everyone respected each other. if the kids respect you, they'll be more likely to listen to you. if they respect each other, they're more likely to be nice to each other. of course, a kid who gets compliments and knows you appreciate them is more likely to listen to you than if you just scold them. if a 10 year old has heard a 5 year old give them a compliment, they're more likely to listen to them instead of say, "no, you can't play with us!"

i went from constantly breaking up fights to constantly hearing kids say nice things to each other. it went from constant tattling to constantly telling me something nice someone did. it sounds cheesey, but it's really all kids want is to be recognized and appreciated. it worked for me.
missnikki 06:16 AM 10-01-2010
QualiTCare- I love that idea. I did something similar and the older kids loved it:
I brought in some old newspapers and had them sit in a circle, and take some newspaper to use for a 'trophy' that they would design by tearing, folding, crumpling, whatever...they could use tape and yarn, too. They were making a trophy for the person on their left, and they were to present it to the person with a 'speech' on why they earned it. It was really cute, seeing them show their parents the trophy they got, and a couple of them brought them back months later for their class's show and tell!

One more, I had a stack of scratch paper with one side blank, didn't want to throw it out so on a crazy day I had them each write down one thing (I picked a category like favorite food, something that makes you mad, something you are scared to try..etc..) wad it up, and we had a snowball fight with them! They would throw, pick up another and throw, on and on until I said STOP. Afterwards, they would each pick up one snowball and read it, we would all guess who's it was. It got pretty funny in there.
missnikki 06:32 AM 10-01-2010
AND to answer your question, original poster, The trick with a big class of various ages is, trick. Just some advice, I guess:
1) Stay positive! (I know, easier said than done.)
2) Stay one step ahead of the pack leaders.
3) Always be thinking of the next activity, don't get too comfortable.
4) Feel the 'temperature' of the room. If kids are fighting, it's because they are bored/need attention. If there's a lot of tattling and whining, they are probably tired from the day. Tone it down with a mellow activity.
5) Give the bigger kids some 'responsibilities'. Like QualiTCare said, have the olders read to youngers, or help with snack, or pick a helper for the day, etc...
6) When they act up in a potentially harmful way, instead of just Time Out I would have them 'walk the line'- find a line on the ground, like a basketball court marking or even a large crease in the cement, and have them walk around and around or back and forth until I say. I tell them that if you can't play safely, you need to stay in this area so no one gets hurt. When I think you are ready to follow the rules, you can join the group.
Also, they can 'shadow' you, where they stay next to you at all times. As a kid, that one sucks.
Just never speak out of anger while doing this, just be matter-of-fact and be a little diappointed rather than frustrated... "It's too bad you can't join us for ______ yet. I really want to have you play, but you chose to ___instead. I'll keep an eye on you and I'll watch for you to be ready."
7) Never withhold food/snacks/ treats.
8) I don't see anything wrong with the old "If this happens again, I am going to tell your mom/dad." And follow through at pick up time, so they see that you and parents communicate and what happens at daycare doesn't stay at daycare.
That's all I've got for now.
TAMA2010 05:29 PM 10-02-2010
Thankyou. Those are all great tips. Unfortunately my classroom is really small so I don't even have room to sit everyone down in a circle. There are three tables on one side of the room that fit 17-20 kids and a play area on the next with a chair in a "safe" zone I call the quiet chair. I send childrent there to play independantly with blocks or a puzzle when they are acting out and continueing to fight or get into trouble. It actually seems to calm them down.
They definately are bored, though we have plenty of toys and games and books for them, even two computers to use. I have made past attempts at reading to them, but they do not enjoy it, they hate it even though I pick books that are age appropriate. When I ask children to compliment eachother some of them are sarcastic and make bad remarks instead. I'm very frustrated because these children don't want to participate in activities most of the time but then get bored because there is nothing to do.
Positive reinforcement has worked well in the past, they trip over themselves to do well because they want a reward for it. Unfortuanetly the prizes I buy are personal expenses bc the daycare director likes the idea but keeps forgetting to give me the catalog to order from even though I've asked repeatedly. So sometimes I'm low on prizes and the behavior reverts back to selfishness and fighting.
I want a change and I know I've got to be the one to initiate it. In the past these kids have been through many teachers because the other teachers could not handle thier behavior. The one I replaced actually broke down and cried because of something the children said to her. I'm not phased by words but I am dissapointed in myself and the children. I want to do better..I need a Nanny McPhee!
melskids 07:39 AM 10-03-2010
can you push the tables together and have the kids sit all around it? kinda like a business meeting. do your circle time there.

let them have a say in the activites you plan, snacks, etc. they love to give input.

have different themes for each day. like monday is movie day, tuesday craft day, wednesday cooking, etc.

bring in clocks and toasters and other electronics. they love to take stuff apart. they also love bits of wood scraps to nail together and paint.

most importantly....get them outside!!!!!!! they need to burn energy.

how long do you have them each day? what does your schedule look like?

my afterschool kids get here at 3:45. we have snack and then go outside until around 4:30. then we do homework, a scheduled activity, and some free play. i dont give them time to bicker
Tags:after hours care
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