Developing a Sense of Self

Children (and humans in general) want to know what is expected of them. Expectations help children feel safe and allow them to know how to function in a group, specifically our classroom community. In society we are governed by rules that we all follow, some of these are societal norms and some are passed down as laws. While children are at Growing Seeds, we feel it is important to provide consistent and clearly defined limits and expectations to help children develop accountability and self control. Setting limits with natural consequences helps children Rotating5to become accountable for their own actions. We believe positive behavior is associated with having appropriate models, having close supervision of caring and trusting adults, having opportunities for academic and social success, and having access to meaningful feedback that guides their behavior.

In general our school believes in these simple, yet complex ways of being together.

  • • BE SAFE
  • • BE KIND

Children are held accountable for their actions. When this happen, they learn that their actions have outcomes and that they are responsible for those outcomes. This will look different at various developmental levels and depending on the circumstances of the behavior. Teachers and children work collaboratively to come up with a plan to ensure that the children become more successful and gain skills to interact with one another in a more respectful way. The following is an example of a potential incident between a child ranging in age from 2-5 years and how we would respond. Jenny pushed Johnny down and he scraped his knee. The teachers would say "Jenny, look at what happened! You pushed Johnny down and hurt him. Look at his tears and sad expression on his face." We hold Jenny accountable by repairing the injury as best we can. We would ask Johnny, "Is it OK with you if Jenny gets a wash cloth to dry your tears?" He nods yes. The teacher would then tell Jenny to get a damp cloth and show her how to gently wipe and dry Johnny's cheeks. We never insist on an "I'm sorry."

If Jenny refused to help, we would ask her to sit nearby and watch the teacher provide the assistance. Or if Johnny did not want Jenny's help we would emphasize to Jenny that his rejection is another consequence of what she did. Later, after the incident was settled we would talk about what happened and how we could have prevented it. We would practice a "re-do" or "do-over."

Once classrooms have formed a sense of community a safe emotional climate in which to exist we suggest that teachers attempt to grant the child space and time to be responsible for their own actions. By stepping back as much as possible, it implies that we trust the children to be masterful and responsible for themselves and their behavior. Consistent with this idea, the teacher's degree of direction or explicitness during any interaction has implications on the child's ability to self regulate. When adults continually influence children's behavior through explicit commands and by giving immediate answers to momentary problems, learning and self-regulation are reduced. In contrast, when teachers regulate children's behavior by asking questions that permit the child to participate in the discovery of solutions, learning and self-regulation are maximized. Thoughtful adult questions encourage independent thinking as well as problem solving strategies.