I don't want to!
Getting little ones to follow instructions is not always easy. I am certain that if you count the number of "no's" you hear in the course of one day, you will be quite surprised by the result. The question is, what are we to do when children refuse to follow through with our instructions? For daycare workers, the problem is important. Having children within a group refuse to follow the others makes it very difficult for the group to function properly and for activities to be completed. Could it be that daycare workers are too demanding? Children who are faced with many instructions can be tempted to let a few slide every once in a while.
Getting little ones to follow instructions is not always easy. I am certain that if you count the number of "no's" you hear in the course of one day, you will be quite surprised by the result. The question is, what are we to do when children refuse to follow through with our instructions? For daycare workers, the problem is important. Having children within a group refuse to follow the others makes it very difficult for the group to function properly and for activities to be completed. Could it be that daycare workers are too demanding? Children who are faced with many instructions can be tempted to let a few slide every once in awhile.
Considering this, I found that I could help children follow instructions more willingly by adapting the environment, by changing my interventions, and by offering visual support. Here are small tricks which I have developed to do so. These methods have worked very well with my group. Of course, children are all different but I am certain these can help you too.
Activities, material, and interventions:
- Display a chart illustrating your daily schedule. Different formats can be used. Caterpillars or trains are popular. Each portion of the day should appear on it. Include arrival, free play, washing of hands, snack time, outdoor play, etc. Children are well informed of the content of their day and surprises are avoided. A small arrow which travels along the chart as portions of the day are completed can be an interesting addition.
- Avoid dissatisfaction by giving children fair warning when a transition is approaching. For example, "Clean up is in five minutes." Children do not know how to tell time but they will rapidly understand that when we say this, it means they do not have a lot of time left to complete their game.
- Along the same line of thought, consider using a kitchen timer or an hourglass to announce the end of an activity. Dollar stores offer fun-shaped versions which are sure to appeal to children. Remember to always allow children a reasonable amount of time to complete their activities and therefore avoid small frustrations which can tempt them to break rules.
- My advice, limit rules. Concentrate on a maximum of five rules which are absolutely necessary for the group to function well. List rules on a colourful poster for children to see. Following this advice will convince you that many rules can be eliminated without serious consequences. Keep in mind that limiting the quantity of rules children must follow will directly decrease the temptation of breaking them and also your interventions.
- Adapting the environment to the ages and needs of the children can cut our interventions and instructions in half. 2 year olds need to climb. Providing a mountain of pillows to do so may very well make them less inclined to climb on the table for example.
- As much as possible, allow children to make small choices. This will help diminish the impression that they spend their days following instructions. Prepare a chart which attributes responsibilities that can be shared among the children. Children are proud to have "jobs" throughout the day and feel they have an important role to play within the group. This may even ease daycare workers' workload.
- Use non-verbal gestures to remind children of rules. Act out instructions instead of simply repeating over and over again to capture their attention.
- Add a touch of imagination to your instructions. Children can be transformed into vacuum cleaners at cleanup time or hop to the sink like bunnies to wash their hands.
- Simplify cleanup time. Use transparent storage containers and label them. Photograph their content and glue pictures to containers to help children place objects in the appropriate place.
- Remember to use positive reinforcement whenever children respect rules and instructions. There are many ways to congratulate children for good behaviour. Children are so eager to please. Receiving compliments encourages them to continue behaving.
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