As a teacher of new parents, preschoolers, and every age group in between at Bubbles Academy, I see how giving little ones choices can be both an effective disciplinary strategy and an opportunity to build independence and confidence in the classroom.
In our 2 year old classrooms, choices are used as a positive disciplinary strategy. If a child is standing on a table, the teacher might say “No, thank you. Standing on the table is not safe. Please make a safe choice!”. If a child is not participating in circle time, and is instead running around the room, the teacher again might say “No thank you. It is not time for running. You may walk back to the circle, or I will carry you. Which do you choose?”. In both scenarios the child and the teacher are equal participants in the out come of the situation. Being able to make their own choices is such a critical step in developing a sense of independence and responsibility.
Throughout the day in our 3 year old Arts Integrated Preschool program, students are given dozens of choices each day. As teachers it is our job to facilitate safe choices and play, as well as provide as many opportunities for learning as possible. If the class is exploring the life cycle of a seed, students might be given the choice of planting seeds in real dirt, painting a group mural of flowers, or playing a letter recognition game.
These ladies chose to work on the letters of their name on their own!
This is just the cutest picture of the planting activity I described above
Each center has developmental value, and students must decide what they would like to explore. Of course, being able to change their mind, and try a new station whenever they feel the need is important part of our classroom structure as well. At first, I found myself worrying that if I didn’t require each student to spend time working at each station, they may never learn their letters, or grasp the concepts of each themed unit, but as usual, my students alleviated those fears almost immediately.
This is a great picture of each child choosing to do something different! So independent!
As long as engaging activities were supplied, the students eventually made their way to each station when they were ready. Taking the pressure off learning, and off of teaching has been such a wonderful gift, and I encourage you to do the same with your little learner!
Here are some ways you can allow your little one to make choices every day in your home!
- Have them pick out their own clothes in the morning
Make sure outfits are organized in drawers, or racks at their level, and that only seasonal clothing is an option. If the thought of a mis-matched ensemble makes you cringe a bit too much, let your child choose from two or three outfits that you have put together for them. Ready for an extra independence challenge? Let your child work on putting on their clothes by themselves. I cannot stress enough how important it is to give your child as many opportunities as possible to be independent at home, as it is always the first step towards classroom readiness.
- Give them some say in your daily schedule
For example: “ You need to take your nap in one hour. Would you like to eat lunch and then play with your trucks, or play with your trucks first?” or, “What would you like to do before bedtime? Color with crayons, or build with blocks?”. Letting go of some of the control will be such a relief for you as a parent, and a huge way to empower your little one.
- Provide an enticing area filled with skill-based toys and art supplies that are always an option during playtime
Puzzles, alphabet cards, paint, books, scissors, beads, and whatever else that might spark your child’s interest. That way, instead of forcing “Letter practice time”, or “Art time”, your little one can choose to explore theses things at their own pace, and cultivate a lifelong sense of curiosity. If, like I was, you’re feeling a little worried about having such a free flowing attitude when it comes to school, try modeling all of the choices in your “learning area” when your child seems to always be choosing other (not quite as educational) ways to play like watching a favorite show on TV. You are your child’s best role model, and when they see you having fun and exploring, they will be much more willing to engage.
If you’re looking for even more ways to enhance your child’s independence, creativity and confidence this summer, there’s no better place to explore than Bubbles Academy. With our flexible class packs, and Camp Bubbles you can try something new every week!
Your teachers are always here as a resource and can help you Choose the Adventure that’s right for you!