November 12, 2014
I am currently sitting in a preschool ELL classroom at my organization where there is a “special friend” who’s in this class that likes to run the classroom. At times, the child is either laying on the floor kicking and screaming, disrupting other friends in class, or just ignoring all adults all together. As I walked into the classroom, I saw the behavior (yet again) so I decided to help out the teachers and this is how I did it by using my laptop, an online sand timer, and some patience.
The students had just finished eating lunch while student X (this is what we will call the child) is running around the library throwing books. I kindly and safely walk over to X and in a deep voice instruct to walk outside of the classroom with me. There, I review over the rules with X, one at a time, and make sure X completes each action a few times prior to re-entering the classroom.
Once X is back in the classroom, I break up the directions one at a time. First, hip and lip. Second, walk to the library. Third, you have 5 seconds to find a book. Fourth, sit down. Fifth, open your book. Sixth, read your book. By breaking down the directions one at a time and making sure X masters each step slows the process down for X and gives X a chance to display more appropriate behaviors with little confusion.
Now, it’s nap time. X isn’t a fan of going to sleep and rarely has. As X is placed on the cot, I sit beside with my laptop and a calm voice. I tell X that we are going to play a game but X has to listen to my directions first. I get my laptop and show sand timer online. X is intrigued. I explain that X has to lay on the cot for 2 minutes and then have the opportunity to tell me something.
2 minutes pass and X is staring directly at the computer screen. As the buzzer goes off, X proceeds to tell me about smiling faces. After a minute convo, I tell X to lay down for 5 minutes now and then we can talk for another minute. X lays, watches the screen, has a few yawns, and then as the sound buzzes, proceeds to tell me about the family. I follow this up with a 10 minute session, and then a 20 minute session.
During the 20 minute session, X became restless. Totally understandable. This was the first time someone has sat next to X the whole time with a timer. I told X if X can get thru 20 minutes, we can color in the hallway. As the buzzer goes off, I grab markers, a worksheet from the classroom, and a book and X and I walk to the hallway to color. We spend about 5 minutes initially and then X gets an extra minute prior to clean up.
We enter back into the classroom and we start at 15 minutes and work our way down subtracting 5 minutes each time.
The goal of this exercise was to break up time. From my observance, X wants attention and thinks that everything is X’s. What I did was gain the control back and used something to distract his attention hoping that by the end, X can self-regulate. Good thing, X finally is laying down on the cot without me having to redirect….even though this process has taken almost 1.5 hours. X is laying quietly, and even though X isn’t sleeping, the fact that X is following the rules is the biggest part.
Now, this might not work all the time but CONSISTENCY is the word. If you get a child in some sort of routine, it will really help that child follow directions and show good behaviors down the road. The biggest thing is being patient, understanding that the child is just a child, and knowing that you are the adult and the one ultimately in trouble.