Little Acorn Day School rules are simple and clear. “Be safe” and “Be kind.” Each child deserves to spend his/her day in harmony with respectful peers and teachers. Teachers use a pro-active verbal and non-verbal (smiles, pats, high-fives, etc.) positive reinforcement approach to highlight and encourage safe and kind behaviors. In other words, teachers use children’s names and descriptions of positive behaviors, whenever they observe these behaviors occurring. In addition, there is direct instruction on positive pro-social behavior, using puppetry and classroom scenarios. There is also individual on-going peer coaching. Teachers play with the children while reinforcing “good friend” behavior, such as sharing, helping, complimenting, etc.
When unkind or unsafe behavior does occur, it is handled in a positive, constructive manner. Because we have such a wide range of ages, corrections for inappropriate behavior are matched to the child’s developmental level. All children are reminded of the rules and told specifically what they did or are doing wrong. Then they are given alternative appropriate behavior choices. As children gain verbal and problem solving skills, they are guided through the negotiation process. This process involves defining the problem in terms of the needs of both parties, brainstorming solutions, making a plan, and following through with that plan. If the behavior is repeated, chilren are given a warning. If it happens again, children are asked to go to the quiet area until they are “ready to… (appropriate behavior is stated here).” Children are in charge of deciding when they are “ready to…”.
If the behavior becomes a recurring problem, parents will be called for a conference, where we will work together to understand the problem and devise a behavior plan to correct it. If all avenues are explored and the child continues to exhibit behavior that is unsafe, then as a last resort, he/she may be asked to withdraw from the program.
We do not use any form of corporal punishment, or shaming. Children are under “voice authority” only, used in a respectful and firm, but loving manner. The state licensing regulations also require that parents use no form of corporal punishment while on school property.