Home   Suggestions for Working With Children

Suggestions for Working With Children

  • Respect the child as an individual. Be courteous to her, as you would be to anyone else.
  • Allow children to work out their own difficulties when possible, unless a child’s physical safety is at stake. If you feel hesitant, ask the Director or teacher for help.
  • When inside, sit down as much as possible so that you are not conspicuous: remain on the child’s level. Always sit facing the group for which you are responsible. Be sure you have a child’s attention before speaking to him. Do not call across the yard to a child.
  • Encourage independence in children. Allow and encourage as much free and creative activity as children can handle without possibility of frustration or danger. Remember that all activities are optional. If a child is struggling with a task, do not interfere unless you are sure he is becoming discouraged. Then help him only to the point where he can complete the task himself. Allow children choices whenever possible and let them make the decisions independently. Adults should stay in the background ready to help if necessary but allowing freedom.
  • Never leave a group, even for a few minutes, without telling an adult. Avoid visiting with other adults.
  • Make statements in the positive manner whenever possible. Use direct action verbs, such as “We walk inside” or “We slide down the slide.” Use a quiet voice at all times, as it is possible to be quiet and firm. Avoid the words “don’t” and “no.” Try to tell a child what to do, instead of what not to do.
  • When supervising art activities, avoid making a model for the children or asking, “What is it?” or “Is it a cat?” If you are curious, try asking this way: “Tell me about your picture.” Most pre-schoolers are involved in the process of manipulating the brush or crayon. They are not really concerned with the “what” but with the “how.” If the child spontaneously tells you about the picture, try to get a piece of paper and write down the child’s words, for the parents’ later enjoyment.
  • Do not discuss children, other parents, staff or school issues in the children’s presence or while working.
  • Avoid putting your hands on children and dragging them to conform to routine.
  • Throwing objects, except for balls and beanbags, should be discouraged. If a child persists, have him throw away from the group, or substitute something else.
  • Kicking is not tolerated. Try the negative practice of having the child kick a door or a tree if he cannot understand that kicking is not allowed. However, it is better to provide something the child can kick constructively, like a ball. If necessary, divert the child’s attention, suggest another activity, or isolate him when another child might be hurt.
  • Hitting is not permissible. Try to re-direct the child or substitute a more desirable activity.
  • Let one adult handle a situation to its completion, leaving the guidance of your own child to another adult whenever possible.
  • Do not hesitate to ask the teacher for help if you need it. The teacher does not want you to assume more responsibility than you are ready to handle at a given time. Do not be afraid of making mistakes; do the best you can and discuss the matter with the teacher later. If a child is hurt, acknowledge the hurt, but minimize the situation.
  • Give particular attention to the reserved, quiet, or new child. It is normal for new children to take quite a while before really integrating into the group. Don’t immediately go to the shy child, but let him know he may come to you if he feels the need. Every child should receive true individual attention during the course of the day.
  • Praise is recognition of achievement. Praise something specific, not the child in general, such as, “You did a good job with that puzzle.” Especially praise a child when she succeeds after failure.
  • Encourage playing together and sharing. When two children are fighting over a toy, try saying, “He has the truck now; next it will be your turn. You can play with the boat for now.” Make sure, however, that the second child receives his turn. Remember your promises to children.
  • Print or have the child print his first name on all artwork. It is important to print in capital letters, since children are learning letter recognition throughout their pre-school years. Writing instead of printing may confuse them. For example, a written “a” may look like an “o” to a child. Ask the child where she wants her name placed.
  • Give warning of change in activity ahead of time. Direct children to a new activity when the present one is finished.
  • Use home discipline at home and school discipline at school. If you have some objections to the school way, let another adult handle the situation and discuss your objections with the Director and/or teacher away from the children.
  • We may disapprove of a child’s actions, but never of a child. Children need to know that they are still liked even though they have misbehaved.
  • The subject of toileting will be covered thoroughly by the teachers with reference to individual children; however, these are the basic principles to remember: let the children do as much as possible by themselves, but offer help when needed. Every child should wash his or her hands after using the bathroom. Every adult should wash his or her hands after helping and in between helping each child. Give the children privacy. Encourage other children to give their friends privacy, but as long as children are in the bathroom, they need adult supervision.
  • If clothes are soiled, help the child change clothes with as little fuss as possible. Be sensitive to the child’s self-esteem. Let him know that all people have accidents sometimes, and that you know that he will have better control as he gets older.