Use the daily time come to set the tone of positive advice.
Earlier this year, teachers meet children and their families through home visits and orientation period (when some children approach for a few hours each day). During the orientation, we present our time-of-arrival routines. Our goal is for parents to have positive interactions with their children and they can have strong interactions with children and family members. Our routine and our functions allow us to be present and connect with each child and his family for at least a few minutes. We plan activities that address positive directions, as well as language learning and literacy and mathematics. When the day starts well, most children remain committed and focused. Our predictable routine consists of three parts:
1. Provide specific activities in learning centers. We show you simple written instructions for activities that parents and children can do together. Although performing activities is not required, parents and children are often because they are engaged and they trigger ideas to use at home.
2. Write an interactive message tomorrow. The daily message is for families to read to their child because the child calls each word. Part of the message specifically to a positive direction. In Hawaiian culture and in our program, we emphasize the values of Hawaiian (goodness), malama (care) and kuleana (responsibility). To involve families and children in the discussion, question invites reflection on one of these three values. For example, the message may ask: What a way to show for Malama today? A family member helps the child answer the question, records his response in a post-it note, and adds it to a series of messages that appears in the week. Additional messages may ask, “How many letters are there in your name?” Or “Who brought you to school today?” The daily message is discussed when we get together for a group of hours later in the morning.
3. Create a library. To encourage strong interaction at home, we have launched a loan library. Books are organized into categories (which change periodically) so that children can return to their book in the morning and make a new selection. The children love to chat with Deborah’s books that have returned and hear their recommendations for new selections.
Make sure smooth transitions.
As a team, we maintain a warm, friendly classroom climate by planning and using teamwork to ensure a smooth transition. Over time, we have established a repertoire of successful strategies in three main categories:
1. Humor. A bright tone gives us energy and asks for positive responses from children. If we laugh out loud, compose a stupid song to give an address, or sing funny words to a familiar song, we keep our light on time and compromise the transition. Sometimes we laugh at each other and our own foolishness, which also makes the children laugh.
2. Puppets. When we gather on the carpet between activities, each of us uses a finger puppet. Puppets talk about what happens next, what they observed about the cleanliness or behaviors expected of the next activity. Children are familiar with these puppets and seem completely invested in their listening. Daisy: Hey Fuzzy, I used my feet to walk when I came in a big group. Fuzzy: Me too. We know our kuleana (responsibilities), right?
3. Music. Songs and melodies are added to the positive tone. When interacting with one child at a time, we use the natural and genuine voice. However, when we want to involve the whole group, we find that the song directions catch their attention more than our normal voices. These strategies work for us: