Learning relaxation techniques is a beneficial self-regulation strategy for children. Once they are aware of them, it is very easy to suggest using one when the need arises.
- Count to 10
- Slow deep breaths (smell the flower, blow a bubble)
- Visualization techniques (close your eyes and imagine you are...)
- Progressive muscle relaxation (tense your shoulders, now let them go...)
Even if your school does not follow a formal social skills program, you can do a variety of activities in your class to promote social skills.
Provide opportunities to solve social problems through:
- Role play
- Puppet stories
- Picture cue cards with scenarios
- Picture cue cards with emotions
- Social stories
- Awareness of boundaries
Find more tips and printables in the At-Risk section of Emotions, Self-Regulation, and Problem Solving.
It is always best to create class rules together, so that children feel part of the process and take ownership of the rules.
- Limit the rules to the most important
- Word the rules positively (‘walk in the halls’, rather than ‘no running’)
- Make sure children are aware of consequences and be consistent
If children have too much wait time they may get bored or anxious, which can lead to behaviour issues. Limit wait time by adding fun, educational elements. Every moment can be a teachable moment.
- Play word games with sounds and rhymes
- Brainstorm things that are round, cold, bigger than..., as soft as....
- Use wait time to practice relaxation techniques
- Review favourite songs or poems
- Play quick games like 20 Questions or I Spy
With such a variety of activities happening in a kindergarten day, all children benefit from having a predictable schedule and knowing what to expect. For some, it can be a challenge to adapt to changes.
- Post a pictogram of the schedule
- Follow a predictable flow as much as possible
- Create a balance of sitting and movement, indoor and outdoor activities, teacher-led versus student directed/free play activities
- Have a variety of activities each day among language based lessons, math activities, science, technology, art, etc. to engage all interest levels and promote exposure to a variety of topics
- The use of themes can help create cohesion between activities, and from day to day
One of the most important lessons we can teach the children is that fair does not always mean equal. Explain to the children that everyone will get what they need, not necessarily what they want.
Teachers must also be flexible and allow for differences to accommodate student needs.
- Allow different seating at circle time for some children who cannot sit well on the floor
- Allow children to play or complete work while sitting at the table, standing, or lying on the floor (Lying on the floor promotes core muscle development and stabilizes the arm for fine motor control when writing)
- Give a concrete example to explain wants and needs: “Johnny wears glasses to help him see, so that is what he needs. Emma doesn’t need glasses to see so she doesn’t use them. Max feels more secure when he has Lizzie (a weighted lizard) on his lap and that helps him focus better at circle time, so that is what he needs.”
Games are a fun way to foster community, team building, and promote the various competencies while developing many other life skills such as following rules and waiting your turn.
The games mentioned here can be played in the classroom and do not require much room or equipment.
When we have expectations or expected outcomes, we need to make sure the children know what they are so they can work toward attaining them.
A criteria chart or anchor chart can be made with the students contributing their ideas about the topic.
- Be clear with expectations, make sure they are age appropriate, and set students up for success e.g. before expecting children to quietly look through books, discuss ways they can read a book: “read” the pictures, retell a familiar story, or read the words
- Help children internalize a desired outcome by asking what does it look like, sound like, and feel like to achieve it? e.g. What does it look like and feel like when we cut with scissors? What do we do with our hand? What do we do with the scissors? What do we do with the paper?
Clean up time
To maintain your sanity and time, and to promote independence and consideration among the children, they must be involved in cleaning up after play time, learning centres, or crafts.
- Class jobs make routine tasks easier and obvious
- When the children are finished cleaning up the area they played in, they can help a classmate clean theirs
- Singing a clean up song can make the process more enjoyable for some and will be an auditory reminder for others.
Dressing for outdoors
The reality of Canadian weather means that we have to face this task multiple times each day, so we might as well make it as smooth as possible.
Allot sufficient time and space for dressing and undressing.
- Create a chart with the children that shows an appropriate order for putting on winter gear, and post it in the dressing area
- Encourage children to be independent by having them try first, before asking for help
- Encourage children to help each other and to ask peers for help. Those finished fast are adept at dressing and therefore, skilled to help. They also benefit from staying busy while waiting.