“Walking feet”, “inside voices”, “can you check on your friend?” are just a few examples of the phrases that you hear in the hallways of FUMP. The teachers consistently use these phrases and many like them in their interactions with children. It is very rare to hear things like “no” or “don’t.” Why is that? It comes from the framework of positive guidance.
At FUMP, our teachers have the goal of self-regulation for each child. In other words, we hope that a child can make good choices in the classroom: follow class rules, show friendly behaviors towards peers, use materials appropriately without intervention from an adult. Of course, there are times throughout the day for each and every child where an adult steps in to guide a child. It is the deliberate choices in HOW we guide that child that makes FUMP unique.
When a child needs assistance, we prefer to use the least intrusive method to guide the child back to center. Read on for more explanation.
So we begin by reminding children of our expectations, and when doing so, we phrase them into action statements for the child. We say “walking feet” to a child who is running down a hallway. Phrasing things in the positive allows the child know exact what the adult expects without having to “translate” a negative into the positive. A child has to stop and translate “don’t run” into the directive to slow down and start walking. It also models a very respectful way of speaking to a child.
Our next step is our most commonly used form of guidance: redirection. When a child has not responded to the reminder of expectations, we guide their interest to a new activity. With our low ratios, our teachers quickly get to know your child’s likes and dislikes and what activities that they find interesting. They offer alternatives to the child that steers them away the issue at hand, and creates interest in a new activity. It provides the opportunity to refocus in a positive way and it avoids a power struggle. This works successfully in most instances.
Occasionally, a teacher will ask a child to come and sit near them. This is usually when a child has become upset and isn’t quite ready for play. It can happen when a child is crying and we have that child take a moment to regain their composure. Once the child reaches that point, a teacher can discuss the event and /or prepare the child to return to their peers.
Those are our best and brightest techniques for guidance. I am constantly impressed by the teachers delivery of guidance with calm voices, gentle touches and positive phrasing. They do an outstanding job at this, and it shows by all of the happy sounds that you hear in the classrooms.
If you would like to see more of positive guidance techniques, please consider signing up to be a parent substitute! We are happy to have parents assisting in the classroom, and it creates an excellent opportunity for parent to see positive guidance in practice.