The term discipline often has a negative connotation, and we prefer to refer to how we work with children as child guidance. We know that children need consistency in expectations, and that all behavior is a form of communication.
To keep things consistent, we utilize the Sandy Knoll Elementary School Policy on School Wide Expectations and Student Conduct:
“We share three important school-wide expectations at Sandy Knoll-- Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible. As a part of the school learning community, students are expected to act in a safe, respectful, and responsible manner toward others, themselves, and property. Students can demonstrate these positive behavior traits in several ways:
Students will think first before acting
Students will keep hands, feet, and all other objects to themselves
Students will act in a courteous manner toward adults and other students
Students will always follow directions
Students will use appropriate voice levels (0-no talking, 1-whisper voice, 2-indoor conversation voice, 3-presentation voice, 4-outdoor voice)
Students will respect all property”
As a licensed childcare program, we are also mandated to have a discipline policy and we must follow the state rule:
“R400.8140 Discipline Rule 140.
(1) Positive methods of discipline that encourage self-control, self-direction, self-esteem, and cooperation shall be used.
(2) All of the following means of punishment shall be prohibited:
Hitting, spanking, shaking, biting, pinching, or inflicting other forms of corporal punishment.
Restricting a child’s movement by binding or tying him or her
Inflicting mental or emotional punishment such as humiliating, shaming or threatening a child.
Depriving a child of meals, snacks, rest, or necessary toilet use.
Excluding a child from outdoor play or gross motor activities
Excluding a child from daily learning learning experiences
Confining a child in an enclosed area, such as a closet, locked room, box, or similar cubicle.
(3) Non-severe and developmentally appropriate discipline or restraint may be used when reasonably necessary, based on a child’s development, to prevent a child from harming himself or herself or to prevent a child from harming other persons or property, excluding those forms of punishment prohibited by subrule (2) of this rule.”
This list of prohibited forms of punishment also apply to parents when they are present at our program.
We strive to form solid relationships with children and to guide them to make better choices that lead to positive outcomes. The child has an opportunity to learn what is expected, and they gain a strong sense of self and pride in managing their own behaviors. They ultimately learn that although they may not always have control of their emotions, they always have a choice of how to act upon how they are feeling. Children are encouraged to “use their words” and to communicate in order to problem solve situations. We understand that this will look very different based upon the developmental stage and the amount of opportunity that children have been given to be active problem solvers. We respect all children, right where they are at developmentally and work to model and scaffold skills in this area.
Our staff does not believe in Time-Out, instead we focus on “Time-In.” When a child is struggling, it is our job to support them. We know that children will test boundaries, and sometimes will have a hard time remembering what is and is not appropriate. Time-In allows the child and the caregiving member of our staff to work together to find a solution to the situation. It can involve a discussion, calming techniques (such as deep breathing or sensory play), redirection of activity to something more productive that meets the same need, and a sense of teamwork and cooperation to find the best solution moving forward.
When a child is struggling, or we observe behaviors that are concerning we may:
Discuss the situation with the child, asking for more information to get to the root cause of the behavior.
Distract the child’s attention from the activity that is concerning to a more constructive option.
Brainstorm, either individually with the child or as a group to determine what solutions or options may exist.
Remove the child from the source of conflict (or the source of conflict from the child) until a mutually agreed upon solution can be found.
Children are given the opportunity to choose. Specifically, a child will be given the option to do something necessary on their own or if they would like assistance with the task.
Assist the child in finding a “safe space” to cool down, refocus and start again.
If we continue to see behavioral issues or have concerns, parents/guardians will be contacted. Additionally, if behavior is of a serious concern (above a level one infraction) we default to the Marquette Area Public Schools Discipline Plan and Code of Conduct for Elementary Schools and the principal will be involved in our discussion.