Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

Postivite Thinking: It can be taught!

Positive Thinking For Five Year Olds

I’ve been thinking about attachment and students feeling welcomed at school. Like most kindergarten teachers I believe that reflection must be part of my practice if I want to provide a quality learning environment. On Friday one student commented that he had been told that he wasn’t welcome at the lego centre. As the statement was presented without explanation he was hurt. However, when we talked to the group it was because they didn’t have enough tools or space to include another person. We easily fixed the problem and I made a note on my observation clipboard to work some drama into our day next week to remind students of problem solving strategies and that everyone is welcome. I also thought it might be a valuable topic for the blog.

During these early years children can experience self doubt. They compare themselves to their peers often coming up short. However, as the primary adults in their lives we can offset this natural tendency by giving them the skills to think more positively. Here are a few tips for positive feedback.

I can’t do it- if you believe that your child has the ability to master the skill them remind him of a skill that he has already mastered and ask him to take his time and try again.
He hates me— being rejected by a peer can be very hard on your child’s self esteem. Honor your child’s feelings-- it can be hurtful and remind him that he is a terrific person regardless of what others say. Point out that the person may have a problem that has nothing to do with him. At the same time plan a play date for your child to be with friends who you know like him. This will foster social competence and experience positive friendships.
Modeling—there is real value expressing positive thinking out loud. Not only will it provide your child with the vocabulary to express himself but this is also one of the most effective ways to teach him. Children learn what they live so expressing your thoughts in a positive way is the first step to building positive thinking in your child.

As your child’s teacher I have many strategies to foster positive thinking. Here are a few that I use daily.
1.  Provide specific positive feedback to students when they demonstrate real success; social, physical and academic.
2.  Provide explicit information to students so that they know what they are doing and why they are doing it.
3.  Complete daily (rotating students) assessment through observation, interview and seatwork so that I can scaffold their learning experiences. At the end of most days I take a few minutes to expand upon my observation notes while the memories are still fresh, look at student work and review photos taken to capture learning moments.
4.  Plan open ended learning experiences so that all kinders are consistently successful.
5.  Invite students to mentor each other, talk together and share resources.
6.  Establish an expectation that everyone is welcome by providing sufficient resources, no number limits on most learning centres and spacious play/work spaces ie: 10 x 8’ carpet for the block centre. I have designed the physical space so that it can expand and shrink to accommodate the size of groupings during play.
7.  Seek out opportunities for independent thinking, perseverance and celebrating milestones.
8.  Model positive thinking by presenting my thoughts in a positive way “Oops! These dry erase markers have dried up and I forgot to get replacements. Guess we will have to use paper and markers instead of the white board.” (for some reason, I get to do this a lot, my family who are very positive, tell me it is because my brain is so full but I suspect it has more to do with a weak memory).
9.  Respond to spills and breakages with a calm and friendly tone. A common phrase that I repeat is “Oh well let’s fix it together! or “Oh well, do you need some help fixing that?”

10.  If possible, be flexible. For example I asked a child to put away his lunch on Friday after forty-five minutes. He was in tears because he believed that his mother would be disappointed if he did not eat all of his lunch. I had to change my expectation. He missed the interactive lesson but later, in private, we did some collaborative problem solving and made a plan for next week. I will remind him on Monday and then do a check in after a few days to see how his plan is working and to decide if he needs to develop a new plan.

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