At no time ever will the children be yelled at, physically punished, have their personal rights violated, or be verbally harassed.
Regular disciplinary methods for verbal or emotional conflict:
- Calming situation down to a “neutral” state.
- Listening to each child’s issues and acknowledging his or her feelings.
- Helping the children understand consequences of their actions and resolutions for their issues. I do not believe emotions such as anger, frustrations, sadness, et cetera, are “bad”, but that these are natural and healthy emotions that alert us to problems that we can work on constructively (per #4 and #5 below).
- Working with each child to find constructive ways to express emotions: deep breathing, personal space, discussion, understanding other ways to look at the issue, redirection, or creating emotional “tools” to help resolve emotional distress.
- Practicing a variety of ways from #4 and working through process again. Parents are notified in the child’s daily journal if there was an especially difficult issue.
If there is an incident where a child is biting, hitting, or throwing objects, we handle it through regular disciplinary methods first (see above process) in addition to documentation (sent to the state per regulations) and notifying parents privately. If behavior is repeated a second time after regular discipline, parents must immediately pick-up their child for suspension for the rest of the day (child may return next day) in addition to another round of regular disciplinary methods. If there is a third occurrence, parents must immediately pick-up their child for suspension for the rest of the day and child is allowed back only after a group conference attended by parents, child, and teacher. At this time, a final warning is given verbally and in writing that child will be immediately expelled* if a fourth occurrence happens again—your deposit is forfeit as it is used in lieu of required notice.
*If these occurrences are targeting a specific child or of serious violence, then I reserve the right to handle such issues case-by-case to find the safest solution, which may include immediate expulsion or a longer suspension.
Empathy, the ability to share and understand the feelings of another, is practiced daily in direct and indirect lessons. Children are taught to practice self-care and self-respect in addition to being part of a team and group of friends.
It can be difficult for toddlers to express themselves or to adjust their behavior to new expectations that might be different from home, so we stay in contact with your family about behavior in a cooperative way for information exchange and to promote the well-being of your child. A daily journal log is kept that records your child behavior, eating, and any other noteworthy activity or issue.
We also understand that it takes time to build trust and affection, so we welcome your child, no matter their temperament, with patience and understanding.
Polite manners and reciprocal respect (with cultural consideration) is taught and practiced at all times. Though we are loving and gentle, we are also firm and consistent in our behavioral rules.
Rewards and Punishment
Rewards are given for personal achievements on things a child has been working to improve upon or for going “above and beyond” expectations for behavior or actions. Group rewards are for team actions like consistently lining up appropriately, cleaning up together after play, and playing cooperatively. Peaceful resolution of conflict is also rewarded. Rewards are little “prizes” like stickers, mini erasers, or a mini bouncy ball. Each month, at the end of our monthly theme, an achievement award is presented to each child through peer nominations and if enough group rewards have been given during the month, the children earn popcorn and gummy “candy” (organic, natural fruit snacks) for during their monthly movie.
There is no “punishment” or time-out isolation from the group. This does not mean we are lenient. On the contrary, we are very strict about behavior and dedicate time to teaching children the consequences of their actions and how to process their emotions every single time conflict has gotten out of hand (i.e. they were not able to resolve it respectfully). At times though, we simply observe them working out the problem themselves and do not interfere with this learning process.
We teach the children, by observing their interactions and intervening when appropriate, how to socialize with each other and adults during academic periods and free play in a way that is peaceful and considerate. We have an outside and inside area for resolving conflict or to process strong emotions through talking it out with another person or taking space and time to process the emotion by one’s self. Each child creates a “toolbox” of things and/or techniques to help manage and care for his/her emotions. These are kept in our relaxation area near where they can sit with another to discuss their issues or in voluntary self-reflection by his/her self.
Personal Rights of the Child
This section has more to do with our behavior in regards to how we care for your child, as outlined by the State of California and supported by our own standards of quality child care.
Every child has a right to personal space and control over their body. At no time will the child be denied food or drink, the right to sleep undisturbed, the right to use the toilet whenever they need to, and the right to feel safe and secure both emotionally and physically. These rights are set forth by law and are maintained by us.
It is not just cultural diversity that dictates our values on physical interaction, but also personal preference. Children are innocent, so they often do not understand these boundaries and must be taught. We do this by modeling behavior by asking consent for hugs before automatically giving them and encouraging children to speak up for themselves– it is okay to say ‘no’. We let children know that we love hugs and they can give us hugs whenever they wish, but if they choose, they can also just high-give us, give a wave, or use their words to express affection. We reenforce that kisses are only for family members, so no kissing is allowed between staff and children or between the children themselves (unless they are siblings and those children and parents are okay with this). We do this as a very gentle learning reminder, not as a punishment or that they have done something “bad”.