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– So we’re gonna just go ahead and kick this off. Folks who are jumping in and joining us, we thank you for being here and I know that this is gonna be a blessing for you tonight or whenever you’re listening to this webinar, if you’re watching the recording but Ms. Marie is a dear, dear friend and we were fortunate to have her and her wisdom here with us tonight. But before we get to Ms. Marie let me just introduce myself, I’m Patty Burns, I am a state missionary with the Alabama State Board of Missions. I work in the office of Sunday school and discipleship and the two areas of ministry that I’ve worked with are preschool and vacation Bible school and those are passions of mine, I love what I do, I love that this is how the Lord is using me right now and so, it’s a true blessing to be serving as a state missionary and to serve our churches of Alabama. Marie is here as a retired preschool children’s minister, correct? How long ago did you retire Ms. Marie?
– I think nearly three years but it might’ve been four. I mean, time flies when you’re having fun.
– Yeah it does. Marie and I have been friends for a very long time. We first met at an organization for preschool children’s ministers that is a group of folks here in Alabama so long ago and our friendship has just grown and matured and we just love each other. We’re good friends and we love each other and she does truly have a wealth of wisdom. So we’re gonna pray and then we’re gonna get started with this and see what we can help you guys understand about classroom management. So let’s go to the Lord in prayer. Father, God, I just come to you right now, thanking you for the opportunity to serve you as a state missionary as well as in my local church. Father, I thank you for Marie and the way that you have used her through the years of serving in ministry roles as well as lay roles in her church, Father, we’re gonna have all sorts of people who are gonna to join us to listen, they’re are gonna be some who are in paid staff roles and some are gonna be lay people but Father God, I know that as we walked through this evening and as we walk through these questions and answers that you are gonna have us speak what those joining us need to hear, what preschool teachers all over our state need to hear about how we can teach and train our children in our churches in fun and interesting ways so we can point them to you. So Father God, just be with us as go through this evening, give us your wisdom, give us your thoughts, help us to step out of the way and just let you shine in Jesus name, amen. All right, Ms. Marie, I would like, I just sort of threw out a little bit about you but could you tell us just a little bit about your background in preschool children’s ministries?
– I can. I started when I was expecting my first child, I started working in as a volunteer, my first volunteer job was vacation Bible school in a five-year-old class and as I gradually grew into more and more responsibilities as a lay person and then in 1998, I was asked to come on staff, I had been doing a lot of children’s ministry already. Basically had been doing the children’s, leading the children’s ministry but they wanted someone to oversee preschool and children and they asked me to come on staff and I felt very incapable but my mother, of all people, told me, she said, you have all the gifts that it takes to do this job and you’ve got the experience. So I prayed and I had been a PK, so I wasn’t very sure I wanted to be on church staff but I prayed about it and God did lead me to say yes and it has been a blessing for me since then and when you ask him, when I had retired, I took a six week sabbatical when I retired and to allow the new person, freedom to move in but I am still teaching once a week and helping with a lot of things so I don’t feel totally retired. So that’s why it’s hard to remember how many years I’ve been retired because I’m really still doing a lot of it but I love kids and I love teaching and I love helping and serving in the local church. So I’m also the mother of four adult children who are all married and I have a total of 10 grandchildren. So in addition to seeing children at church, I’ve watched my own grandchildren, which the youngest is 18 months now and one next to her is four so I’m still kind of watching them a lot in the preschool area to get ideas about what they like, what they don’t like, how they act and how they react. It’s an education.
– Yeah, yeah. Well, we’re not gonna let you completely retire because as long as I can, I’m gonna have you doing things like this so we can help those who are coming up behind us and serving with us right now. So tonight, our conversation is gonna be classroom management from chaos to calm in a preschool classroom. It’s kind of a long title and we can conjure up what we think we’re gonna be talking about but how about if you just get us all on the same page and tell us exactly what tonight’s conversation will be about?
– Well, class room management is not necessarily about discipline. If you think that’s what this is about, you’re gonna be surprised because classroom management is all the things that you do to organize your children, to organize your space, organize your time and the materials as the children have a wonderful learning experience that is fun and safe. So your classroom management begins before the hour of classroom begins and it’s starts at the beginning also when they get there all the way to the end, when the last child leaves. So remember, when we talk about classroom management, it’s not about control, it’s about creating a wonderful learning environment and an experience that’s fun and safe for everyone where they can learn about God and his word and truth that we can glean from his word.
– Yeah, yeah. So I know that, I mean, you just told us a little bit about your background but what actually caused you to want to talk about a subject like classroom management? Have you got any wisdom from experience that’s coming up through here or…
– Well, when I started thinking about this topic to teach it, I remembered my first vacation Bible school experience in the kindergarten classroom. I’m not real sure how many children were in that room but I think there were probably 50, if not, it seemed like it and um, the teacher in that room, the lead teacher, I think, was the only person that had a clue what we were gonna be doing and I’m not sure she had a clue the whole time. So that was not an enjoyable experience and I decided after that, next year I would be a lead teacher because that wasn’t gonna happen again, not knowing what’s next and scrambling to get the supplies for the this, scrambling to get the supplies for that. So that was and then as children’s minister, I would visit in classrooms and I would observe and just kind of help as they needed and I learned a lot about transitioning children, engaging them and I think that’s a big part of it is just engaging with the children, not giving them an activity or giving them something to play with and then you sitting back over here, it’s so important for us to be totally engaged with the children when they’re in the classroom. So those are some of the things that I think about when I think about classroom management and how and extended teaching care quite often, people think I’m just gonna go babysit for the first hour and some of them don’t wanna come back because it is so chaotic if there’s nothing prepared and they don’t know how to transition kids or how to handle disruptive behaviors or what some of the materials that are out there for them to actually use, they go, would just let them play and when you go into a classroom with no plans except to let them be in charge, it’s not an enjoyable experience and it’s really not enjoyable for the children either and we’re there to teach, we’re there to not take care of, but we’re there, we are gonna take care of them but care taking isn’t our major role, teaching them is our major role.
– Right and from the smallest one, that infant that comes that’s in your arms, I mean, there’s teaching that goes on when you change a diaper and you say the Bible verse of the day, are you seeing Jesus loves me, you are teaching and building those relationships and forming those relationships and if I could, if I could help folks in preschool understand or really outside of preschool understand one thing it’s that preschool is where those foundations are laid, you know? And so we wanna make sure that our kids, what they’re getting in that classroom is focused, it’s God-centered and it’s laying the foundation for all those other years that are to come.
– If you think about it, if you look at a child and you look at how they change from birth, even three years old, they go from what appears to knowing nothing to talking, walking, going to the potty by themselves, I mean, they learn so much and there was research, it’s been a number of years now since this research came out, maybe, I can’t keep up with time anymore, maybe 15, 20 years ago and they have determined that what children are exposed to determines their ability to learn for the rest of their life after those first three years.
– So when you look at that and then you watch a little one grow and you see how much they learn and can do, if they can learn to sing the ABC song, they can learn to sing the Jesus loves me song.
– Absolutely, absolutely. So you mentioned that a well-disciplined class happens long before the children ever arrive. And so you can plan things and you can decide what you’re gonna do but sometimes things don’t always go necessarily the way you’re planning or the way you think.
– Well, it is expected that is gonna happen especially in the preschool classroom, however, I think if we prepare our hearts first and foremost and if you’re a person who teaches in preschool consistently, sometimes you miss out on some of the Bible teaching that adults get. So when you’re preparing to teach on Sunday and as you mentioned, even with the babies, there’s a lesson for them and as you don’t just read how it’s broken down in simple words for that little one, read the scripture passage, meditate on it, see what God says to your heart and what you can learn and of course, as you do that, you’re also knowing what it is that you’re gonna be telling the children just in different kinds of words but I think it’s really important for you to prepare your heart first and foremost and then once you’ve prepare your heart, then you begin to prepare to teach. I think knowing your audience is always so important, as you know, we do conferences and things, sometimes we have an idea of exactly what we’re gonna do and that’s not what our audience even thought they were coming for or it might not be what they needed or just the dynamics of that classroom changes the way you do things. Knowing your audience is very important. There’s a great resource that Life Way produced several years ago and we’ve had a lot of this information on different pieces of paper and handouts for quite a while, but it’s called “Wholly Kids” and it says guiding kids to life in Christ. And in this book, it talks about approaches to learning, the different ways children learn. It talks about developmental and sometimes we have unrealistic expectations of pre-schoolers and children as to what they can learn. We’re grown up now and we have a lot of knowledge that we’ve gleaned through the years. I sometimes tend to use words that are too big so I have to be careful to make the words that I say, be things that the children can understand. In this book, talking about the age level characteristics, the different biblical concepts that we teach children. We teach them about God, we teach them about family, we teach them about community and as we think about the different ways we teach them, we think about what supplies and materials do we need to have to help teach these preschoolers what they want to, what they need to know? I was reading something the other day about even in a baby room, putting a goldfish in a water bottle when you’re talking about creation and they said every now and then you have to take the lid off to let the more oxygen get in the bottle but you screw that down and they, those little ones can watch that and it’s just, can’t you imagine how mesmerized a little one year old would be to get to see that little goldfish in that bottle? And so they learn in so many different ways. They use their senses, their touch, their taste, their smell, their sight, they also learn through play. We say, well, they’re not coming to play, they’re coming to Sunday school but that’s how preschoolers learn, they learn through play but we have play activities that help reinforce the lesson for the day. I was doing a conference the other night and I said, so what would be the activity she would have? I said, give me a Bible students, I said, extra. So if you were in a three through five-year-old preschool classroom, think about, hopefully you get to have your threes and fours together and you can place your threes together, your fours together and your fives together but sometimes you have your three through five together so think about what we could do on a Sunday morning and your literature gives you these ideas. If you’re using a good literature, it will give you ideas. So I said, what if we did ask? So what Patty, just does anything come to your mind immediately as to what would be an activity you would do if you were gonna be doing a study of Esther, that would be more in activity time instead of circle time?
– Oh my, you’re putting me on the spot.
– I won’t put you on the spot, I won’t put you on the spot. You think about it while I’m saying it, what if in the home living area, you had dress up today? You had a cape you had a crown and you had to be short scepter, not a long scepter because what would those preschoolers do with a long scepter? It would become a sword. So you have to do the math and think, So you could have things like the queen would dress up and the king would dress up in crown, in the art center, you could have the children make a crown. They could color it, they could put little sticker jewels on it, they could just, and then they could put it on their head and wear it during group time. So, and then over in another area, you could be setting up a feast. The kids could see the table, oh we’re getting ready, we’re gonna have a lot of people come to our party and we can have a feast and so we’re gonna have our special dishes. So those things don’t stay out in your room all of the time. I would suggest you have bins for things that have to do with nature, things they have to do with dress up, things that have to do with dishes and food, things that have to do with your art. You have special books, you have special puzzles and I’m really sad to say quality puzzles are hard to come by these days, especially Bible puzzles. Life Way made some great ones a number of years back but they don’t offer them anymore but you can still have realistic puzzles because if you’re studying about families, if you have puzzles that have families on them, or if you’re trying to study about community helpers, you can have community helpers. So you have your things kind of divided by topic and by major areas, music, you’ve got musical instruments. So as you think about prepare and you think, what can I use this week to reinforce this lesson? You don’t have everything out every week. So I would, it will be a little effort but I would suggest and I know everybody’s church is different, you’ve got to think about where can I put this? Where can I get this? But think about having realistic things for your children because in preschool there’s our literal thinkers and God is real, God is not a cartoon so we wanna have real things. So, that’s some of the preparation.
– Yeah, so I love your you’re talking about, we’re gonna have stuff set up around the room, we’re gonna have these centers, we’ve prepared our heart and I mean, this is good stuff, this is great, great advice you’re giving. So I’m a new teacher, let’s say I’m a new teacher. Where do I go to find the resources, the information about what I can put in a learning center? Or where are the, those resources activities? Where do I find them and how do I use them?
– Well, one place that has some really quick and easy things is on the Alabama State board admissions website. Under Sunday school, if you go down to the pre go to ministries, then go down to preschool, they have these little brochures that you can print off, they talk about nature and how to use nature, books, puzzles, blocks and when you think about blocks, most people think about wooden blocks but there’s all kinds of blocks. So sometimes the children might use more like the large Duplo Lego blocks, other times they might wanna use wooden blocks, the nice cardboard sturdy blocks. So this will tell you some ideas of things that you would need to have. Now, where do you get them? You get them where you can find them. Sometimes you get some from home, sometimes you find them at The Dollar Tree. I would just say, as far as The Dollar Tree is concerned, just like sure that what you get there is going to not be something too small that the children might put in their mouth or does it have a lot of sharp edges? Sometimes The Dollar Tree things are not real durable and you really do wanna get durable stuff but if you’re on a really tight budget, you might go with the least expensive things, thrift stores. You may have people in your church who, when I was talking about the dress up stuff that are seamstresses that right to sew or have material, get them to do some things like that for you. Oriental also has a lot of good, is another good place to go. Christian Book Distributors is a good place to go to get some books. But there again, I’ve been looking for puzzles and there’s not much to choose from. They also have some children’s games. They carry a lot of the Melissa and Doug stuff and then Constructive Play Settings has really good stuff and it has really good prices on it too. However, you might find an adult in Sunday school class. They don’t wanna work in preschool but they want those little ones taken care of and they might buy you a kitchen set. Or they might buy you some community help or dress up clothes or some community helper dolls.
– They’re willing to adopt a class.
– Yes. So that’s, of course you hope that the church realizes the importance of having quality furnishings and quality supplies and materials in their preschool classroom does budget.
– Let’s talk a minute about that. Yeah, let’s talk a minute about that because you know, we’ve got our literature and it tells us what story we’re talking about and it gives us some ideas of activities we can do but we also know that it’s just a resource that we can pull in, use, God sometimes inspires us with another activity or he shows us something else to do. So we have the, we’ve prepared our minds, we’ve prepared our hearts, we’ve studied our lesson, we have our material, we’ve studied that and you just hit on a really good topic and that is one of space, how do I use my space? We are in churches of all sizes in Alabama. I mean, I went to a vacation Bible school that had 10 children in it, some are even smaller than that but then I’ve also been in bible schools that have over 500 children in them and there, they have large rooms, some have small rooms, some have a lot of resources. Give us, just talk to us a little bit about the types of rooms, the spaces that we have, how can we best create a God focused, Christ centered environment for our preschoolers?
– Well, first I would say, make sure it’s decluttered. That is something inevitable as you and I both know as we visit around and go into churches, sometimes we go into a room and there’s some old, even Sunday school materials, it’s two or three years old stacked up on a table or in a cabinet. So if you want to recycle your preschool materials that are in your resource kits or leader packs, that’s great but have a filing system for it, either by topic or by books of the Bible or ever whatever works for you or those things. Like I said, those levels of biblical learning, they have to do with God and Jesus and Holy Spirit and community helpers and church. So have that, kind of organize your things that way and if you’re kind of new then start now. This is the best time to do it because if you don’t do it from the beginning, it just kind of will blow up on you after a little while. So but we can all make sure our rooms are clean and we can make sure they’re decluttered. If you share a space, that is a real issue in a lot of churches is sharing space. Sometimes they share with weekdays, sometimes they share, somebody else’s in there at another time during the week and you’re in there on Sunday. So if you share space, talk with the person that you’re sharing space with and come up with a plan. If there are things like if you have a weekday and there are things on the wall that you really don’t want the children to be distracted by on Sunday morning, cover it up, cover it up with a big sheet, get you a couple of large sheets and just, that will be your, that will be your colored wall for the day or that might be your wall that you put your teaching picture on, your unit banner, I know like in gospel project they’ve got some beautiful pictures that go with the timeline. So you may have something like that that you attach to that sheet, you fold it up after church is over on Sunday and then you unfold it and put it back up. I am time challenged. So I try to set my room up before Sunday morning. So if you have the ability to do that, if you have access to get in the building, you have the time to do it when the building’s open, or you can get into the building I suggest that you set your room up earlier in the week. Go ahead and go up there and to the church and get the supplies you need. I have gone to the resource room on Sunday morning and I knew that we had a box of glue sticks and so I was just gonna get them when I got there Sunday morning. Well, you know what? Somebody else knew there was a box of glue sticks and they had already gotten them. So you wanna get your supplies before Sunday morning. Don’t just, don’t count on it. Now you may have those things in your classroom already and you know, they’re there and that’s one thing but you wanna have everything organized, you wanna gonna go through your later pack, you wanna have all day activities together so that once those children come in the room on Sunday morning, you’re engaging them immediately. So did I answer your question about where to find out about these resources and some places you can go to find things?
– Yes ma’am you did.
– Another thing I might mention about setting up your room Patty is, bookcases and this is kind of a safety issue too. You wanna make sure any furnishings, any TVs, any CD players, anything like that that is in your room is not gonna be able to be pulled off or turned or tunked over. I think tunked is a word. I can clarify from from Alabama. So we wanna make sure that things are either secured to the wall or they’re heavy enough that they won’t fall over. You don’t wanna put heavy stuff on the top of a, in the top of the file cabinet and then the empty drawers down below, that’s a falling hazard. And then you can use, but you can use furniture, tables and chairs to kind of divide a room. So your art center might be right here in the center and then on this side, you might have some of your activities, don’t worry about chairs for circle time, use Xs on the floor with tape or use carpet squares or rubber mats. Let the kids sit on them or even use little rubber mats or tape to divide the room or area rugs to divide the room up. Right now during COVID, we’re trying not to use a lot of cloth stuff but think about how you can, use your furnishings and items to kind of separate your room into the different areas.
– Yeah, so that just takes us into another great topic when we’re talking with preschool teachers in their classrooms. Say you have a small space. What are some, I need these in my room versus do you really have to have that in your room? You were talking about the story of Esther and you don’t always have those things out. Is there some furniture in the room that is more necessary than others?
– You know, I think most preschool rooms like to have some kind of kitchen but it doesn’t have to be anything really big, ’cause there, they do like to pretend and there’s a lot to do with families and how we relate and families and like I said we can use our kitchen area but I think it is nice to have a table and chairs for them to be able to do their art but they don’t have to sit in chairs to do their artwork, they can stand at a table to do their art. And of course, I would say two year olds down through babies, your furnishings would be minimal because what are they gonna do on furnishings? They’re gonna climb on them and so they’re mostly gonna be in the floor but as they get older, they need a few things, maybe a couple of low bookcases that you can put your Bibles. We definitely want to use our Bibles and we want it to be visible because this is God’s word. This is a special gift to us and we need to help them know this is a very special book, it’s a gift from him and we want them to be able to look in here and see pictures of Jesus in his helpers and we want them to get acquainted with this and I like the children’s Bibles that have the beautiful, realistic pictures of bible times, not…
– As I said earlier, not about cartoons.
– So you wanna make sure preschool classrooms have touchable Bibles.
– Yes and you know, I was talking to someone one time and they said, you know what if they get a page torn, we want them to know they can use the Bible. We want them to be careful with them but they have books, sometimes a page gets torn in a book, we’ll put tape on it and it’ll be okay and then if we need to buy another one, we’ll buy another one. I think these, especially when they go on sale, this particular Bible, I think you can get it for $10 which is not very expensive for… Sometimes you can pay 13, 14, $15 for a little tiny hardback for.
– Well and it’s not like a preschool class every child has to have that full full Bible. I mean, when you get in the older classes, you want everybody to have a Bible but preschool have one that the teacher can use for pictures sitting in her lap.
– Well, the other day I was helping in the preschool class and the teacher was, they we’re having group time and one little boy was sitting real close to the bookcase that had Bibles in them and he was sitting in there and he was looking at the Bible during the circle time and I kind of wondered if that was wise but he was not disturbing anybody and later the teacher asked the children to draw something they liked to hear and he drew a square and then he said, how do you write Bible? And he said, I like to hear about the Bible. They learn and their learning.
– They are. Okay so let’s move forward just a little bit. You touched on safety with furniture and I know just from knowing you for years and years and years, you have taught many conferences on safety and security. It is a passion of yours to have safe preschool classroom rooms, secure preschool classrooms. We know parents are not gonna bring their kids to us if they don’t feel like they’re safe and if they don’t feel like they’re good, it’s a clean, safe, secure environment. So can you talk a little bit about some safety and security issues?
– Well, on some safety things and these are a couple of things I’ve just started thinking about in recent years. Sometimes we wanna laminate things that’s in our packet or just something we wanna keep, make sure that you round the corners when you cut things out because if it’s laminated, it has a sharp point and it can poke them in the eye. That’s just a little, who would’ve thought?
– Yeah. Is that another Alabama word, thonk? That’s another Alabama word. Staples, push pens, sometimes people have a bulletin board. If you’re not very careful, those things can get on the floor and then they can go into a child’s mouth or maybe be stuck into their hand or foot if they’re crawling or knee, if they’re crawling around on the floor. So those are some kind of little safety things that I would mention. I mentioned about the furniture, they need to be able to be, it’s great if you have a water source, it’s great if you have a sink in your classroom, everybody does not, unfortunately. So if you have hand wipes, ’cause we have to think about hygiene, I’m not gonna go into all the things you do with babies in twos with diaper changing but you just need to follow good hygiene, hand washing, gloves, pads, clean spaces and then as children get older and they go potty, you need to make sure this is a safety thing as well as a security thing. When they go potty when they get older, they go potty by themselves but you still need to be right outside the door. I’ve been Upon The Cross for the last five years, six years, five years, I think, I’ve helped in preschool a fair amount, I took one to the bathroom the other day and it’s connected right to our classrooms so there’s good visibility and Ms. Betty said, he likes to play in the bathroom and I said, well, I was gonna be standing outside the door anyway. Well, I hear the door making a noise and I just pushed the handle all the way down ’cause he was trying to lock the door. There was a lock on that bathroom door. The next week I had my husband take the lock off of that bathroom door and he said, I’m not trying to lock the door Ms Marie but he likes to play in the water when he goes in the bathroom. So he wanted to go in there, lock himself in and have quite a grand time in the bathroom. So, I mean that’s just a little sad, silly story but you do not want children to be able to lock themselves into the bathroom. That had not been an issue until that particular Sunday. So you don’t want locks of your bathroom doors, in your preschool.
– Good point.
– So that’s another, that is a safety issue. You know, sometimes we live and learn, we learn as we go and then as far security, your teachers should be identified as legitimate people that are supposed to be in that classroom, no one else should be in your classroom, in your preschool classroom in your nurseries except the people who are there to care for children and teach them on that day, then you can get identified with name tags. Parents don’t need to come into the classroom. They want to but they don’t really need to. So whatever you can do, whatever pauses and procedures you can set up for arrival and dismissal so the children are left at the door and returned at the door is good. We need to make sure we know about if they have any physical concerns, medical concerns, allergies, things of that nature. All of the materials that Life Way produces that always has an allergy alert poster that you can run off and you can laminate and reuse the same one. If you use those based the visa markers or whatever they’re called, they just wipe off with water so they’re really neat for that. So I would say some of those things, the two person rule, that’s another thing a lot of people have trouble understanding if they haven’t worked in ministry but you always want at least two people in the classroom and I mentioned a little while ago about going to the Alabama State Board of Missions, I printed off a whole handbook of papers, that downloads that were in there and one of them talks about how many teachers, pupil teacher ratio. You wanna make sure you have the correct pupil teacher ratio and there’s a couple of reasons for that. One is if you’re gonna really engage the children, you have to have enough teachers in the room do that. Otherwise you’re just managing whatever is there for the day and not really having quality teaching experience. The other one is the safety and security of the children, as well as for yourself. If you’ve only got one person in the room, you have an emergency, whether you have, whether you pass out or the child passes out, you’ve got an emergency and you need another person to help take care of that emergency. And then it also protects you if a child ever says that someone touched them inappropriately if there’s another adult in there that can verify what did and did not happen. So I don’t really see my list in front of me, Patty, I might’ve left something out. Anything else you can think of that we really want them to know?
– Well, I just, with what you were talking about, we got some, I think we’ve got a little bit of time here that you were talking about washing your hands and doing all these things which we should have been doing long before COVID.
– For real, yes.
– That should have been done before COVID but COVID has hit us and fortunately, we’re seeing more churches opening up their doors not just for worship but there are also opening their doors for preschool classes to come back, children’s classes to come back. So in addition to some of the obvious things we need to do for cleanliness, sake, what are some, maybe some COVID tips if your kids are starting to come back to just kind of keep some things sanitized or individual use or talk a little bit about that for us.
– Well, there again, if you don’t have water in the room, they can’t really wash their hands but if you can have some antibacterial, I’m not a big fan of the squirt squirt hand sanitizer, especially with little people but if you could get some hand wipe, hand wipes that are antibacterial, have those handy use them often during the class, after every, after they go from one activity to the next, as they circle the room, course with two year olds, that’s gonna be near impossible but you can still do that periodically and certainly if you’ve changed their diaper, you can just go ahead and watch them after not the same wipe, not the same wipe up their bottom as you do their hands but you go ahead and wipe their hands, that’s a good time to do that. If you wipe noses, make sure you wash your hands after you cleaned the child’s nose. Then fabric toys, can you just get them gone? They’ve always been kind of discouraged, you’re still gonna wrap up babies in a blanket and just take that blanket home that Sunday and bring it back the next week clean but just and if you haven’t been doing that there again, Patty, that’s something that should be done all the time anyway. You should be any of your fabric type things that children handle and play with, they should be washed weekly then just limit the number of things they can have in the classroom, which they need to limit the number anyway but don’t have tons of toys in a classroom. I went into a church recently and they asked me to give them some ideas and suggestions and I think every toy that they would ever use in classroom was there on that particular day and I thought they do not need 25 trucks in this room. They need one or two and only when they’re gonna be doing something that would relate to using trucks. And then if you have multiple sets of toys, either put them in a Ziploc bag or one of those little plastic shoe bins. So if you aren’t gonna use Duplo box, have maybe two or three sets of them in a plastic bin at least for the first hour and the second hour, when you’re having fun school and worship, then you can pick those up that were used the first hour and put them aside then you sanitize everything after it’s over or if you have a chance to sanitize them in-between, there’s a lot of suggestions about different ways you can sanitize toys, even in the classroom, for years, they’ve suggested that you have a little bleach water bucket somewhere that you can just start there. But what we generally do, we just throw them in a bucket and we clean it after it’s all said and done, we just don’t recycle it and then I would say during COVID with the little ones, once they’ve played with it, just throw it out a bucket and then when church is over clean it and then maybe have their own little for the older kids that use art supplies, let them have their own little watercolor paint set, their own little glue stick, their own little crayons or markers in a Ziploc bag. Sometimes they’ll say to pass things around in a circle during circle time, just don’t pass things around, just let them either come look at it or just show it visually to all of them. Of course, they’re all gonna want to the walk up and see sometimes when you’re showing them still letting them feel in touch it because that is how they learn. And then just don’t use food right now and kids are used to having snacks but they’re again, sippy cups can be a real problem. Most kids bring them, they want water to drink or something to drink and you just have to have helpers when it comes to sippy cups. Now, those are just some things that might help a little bit.
– Good ideas, good, good ideas. So you’ve talked about so many different things. Classroom management is so much before you ever enter the classroom and then when you enter the classroom being prepared for what you’re doing that day is part of classroom management but maybe some folks, when they think of classroom management, they lean more toward the discipline side of management. So can you help us a little bit with maybe some discipline tips?
– I can and I’m also gonna say what works today might not work next week but there are things that you can do. First of all, if you’re ready and you’re not having to go from, not going to have to go through the cabinet for the Play-Doh that we’re gonna use today, once the kids get there, you already have to Play-Doh out of the cabinet in a place that it’s easily accessible or it’s already on the table when they get in there and they can play with their Play-Doh or whatever. That’s a big part so that you have, you not only have prepared in advance but you have it right at your fingertips once you’re in the classroom. And I think I forgot, I did say something about time management but I and I said, that was my nemesis, but if you can be there 30 minutes before class starts, then that gives you time to have all those things ready and parents may start bringing them as early as 15 minutes before the hour begins. So you’re ready to greet them. I think you need to have one person designated to greet the child at the door, whether it’s nursery, two year olds, five-year-olds and for the older kids, get down on their eye level. So you’re engaging them as soon as they come in the room. You’re building a relationship with them as soon as they come in the room and then when they get there, go ahead and introduce them to the room. Say today, we’re going to be talking about how God made everything. So you’ve got some nature items in your room, your say, I want you to see if you can find five things that God made today. You wanna go start looking now? And so you’re immediately engaging them. So that’s a big, big part of discipline is having them engaged. So greet them at the door, introduce them to the room, make sure they know the other, if they’re new, make sure they know who the leaders are but then you don’t need a lot of rules and preschoolers aren’t gonna remember a whole lot of rules anyway. As children get a little older, you can kind of have some classroom rules that you maybe even post but they need to know they must be kind, they need to know they must be respectful of each other, of their teachers and of the property in the room and then they need to know the need to be safe. So then as issues occur, you address them based on those guidelines. So, Patty is standing in the chair. What do you do? You don’t say don’t stand on the chair. Don’t, you’re not way over here and Patty’s way over there and you sat don’t stand in that chair Patty! No, you walk over to Patty and you say Patty, you may sit in the chair or you may stand in the floor but you may not stand in the chair. What would you like to do? So you give them choices and you address them face to face. My daughter who’s a preschool specialist, She teaches at The Auburn University Early Learning Center, which is a lab school and she doesn’t use the word don’t, she gives her children choices all the time and that gives, that empowers them because our preschoolers are pretty independent and kind of want to do their own thing. So they need to learn the boundaries. So Dallas wants to play with the blocks and Caleb wants to play with the blocks and they both wanna play with the same block, what do you do? We like to share at church, we like share with our friends. You both might not play with the same block at the same time but you might play with this block and then in a few minutes, y’all can trade blocks. So you give them some options or if you don’t want to do that, you may go over here and do something else. As long as they’re not hurting each other, tearing things up, you can just direct their behavior by redirecting and relocating the child but you never wanna attack the child, always attack the behavior. Instead of saying, you are not being kind, say it is not kind to hit people. You don’t wanna accuse the child because part of what children need is good self-esteem. I know we went over a few of the things that children need and how they learn but they need a good self-esteem and if you’re always telling them they’re bad or they’re doing things wrong, you’re saying don’t, then they’re being scolded the whole time and you don’t want to do that. For me personally, if I’m in circle time, I want my teaching team. I want someone on my teaching team to address a problem if a child is being disruptive during circle time. If I’m doing the teaching, I wanna be able to continue to tell the Bible story or lead the activity or whatever. So I would ask my teammates to help in that also and all the teammates need to know this is how we address discipline and I think it’s so hard not to use the word don’t or to scold but instead of doing that, think about relocating and redirecting their behavior.
– Well, so many kids too, don’t you think Marie, their behavior is out of seeking attention and when you use positive reinforcement, when you give affirmation for behavior that I have found that a lot of times that child is seeking attention through doing negative things will turn around and they’re like, oh, she said I did that well or she said and so it sort of moves them into a positive direction instead of a negative.
– It does and Patty, another thing is sometimes we don’t address the child unless there is a problem but if Patty and Marie are sitting in the floor and we are really playing nicely together, then it’s good for the teacher to say, Patty and Marie, you are being so kind today. I love the way you were sharing with each other. Now don’t give them false praise, you don’t wanna praise behavior that’s not for real good behavior but I think sometimes it’s kind of like that child that comes to church every Sunday so they never get the postcard or the note. So we want to and that’s another thing that preschoolers love, that’s just kinda of off over here by itself but if they could get little pieces of mail from their teacher, that is so special to them. So whatever you can do to build positive relationships, engaging with them, interacting with them, it’s gonna have a big impact on how they respond and I think you will find when they have guided activities, that means you’re doing it for them, this is another thing that I’ve learned in more recent years is children learn through satisfaction and so if they have colored a picture or drawing a picture or built a structure and they like it, you don’t go fix it for them. They’re satisfied, you be satisfied. If they’re through, they are through and you say, well, now I want you to color the whole picture. Well, no, they’re through. So they’re satisfied with it and let you let them be satisfied with their work, don’t do things for them and I know a lot of people like for kids to have like really pretty artwork and it’s okay at Christmas time to have a little special ornament you want the mothers to have that looks like something special but they know whether they made them or not and it’s the process, it’s not the product. So a lot of the things that we do in preschool that you can’t even take home because the parents don’t, it’s not something they take home. It’s the process of what you’re doing and how they go through that process and how guide them through that.
– It was great and I love that you brought up the point of of speaking to the child. When I have taught some conferences in the past, I have said, I love when somebody uses my name. When they speak to me and they say, Patty, I love to hear my name and I think it’s the same thing with our children and our preschoolers is, if you can speak the name of every child in your room at least once during the time that you have them, it’s gonna make them feel special. They’re gonna like that she knows my name, might even be the thought that they have and making them feel special and knowing that, teaching them that Jesus is special and he thinks that they’re special and he loves them and keeping that focus. If we can plan and prepare, have our hearts ready our minds ready, our activities ready, have everything focused on that lesson for the day, focus it on Jesus, we’re a success.
– We go in and we have a plan but we have to be flexible and we have to be willing to adapt as needed based on who is there, the adults that are in the room, as well as the children in the room. Prayer is so important.
– You should pray as you’re preparing, pray as you are traveling to church on Sunday morning, you should pray in your classroom and then of course with the little people you say simple prayers but you really go before the throne and you pray about what’s going to happen that day and it’s so easy to get busy in everyday life and in church life and try to do things on our own steam but when we’re letting the Holy Spirit use his steam to push us forward, it’s gonna be a great day and it’s gonna make a huge difference in the lives of not only the children, in your own life and the lives that those parents, as you said earlier, what do the parents see when they come to the door? They wanna see happy children being engaged in activities.
– Oh, wow, what a beautiful word to close us out on, that was awesome, Marie and you’ve just, thank you. Thank you for giving us your time, I love that we were able to do this, I want folks who are listening to know or if you watch this later, this will be on pinnaclealabama.org and you’ll be able to see that probably in a couple of weeks. If you need more information, if you wanna get in touch with Marie, email me at Pburns@alsnom.org. That’s P B U R N S @A L S B O M .org. And I will respond to that and if you wanna get in touch with Marie, I can give you information where you can get in touch with her. She also referenced alsbom.org, which is our State Board of Michigan’s website and then there’s also kidslinkal.org, which is our children’s link, our website for all things preschool and children so check those out as well. But for tonight, we’re gonna close this off and I’m gonna say once again, thank you, thank you thank you my dear friend. You did an awesome job.
– You’re welcome. Thank you for listening those of you who were watching in.
– Loved it. Yes, absolutely. So thank you and goodbye.