The environment at the Co-op is designed to foster appropriate behavior in children. We provide a stimulating, inviting environment in which children want to play and explore. We provide adult interaction that is positive and empowering. We begin by modeling appropriate behavior. The adults respect themselves, property and other adults. Because we acknowledge differences and disagreements as a normal part of daily living, we work them out respectfully and openly.
We give children positive feedback about all their positive behaviors, giving clear and consistent information about what behaviors are acceptable. When children receive clear instructions about what to do in a particular space, at a particular time, they usually act appropriately. At the Co-op, we set the stage for positive, inspiring interaction, thus eliminating much potential for inappropriate behavior. When children receive clear instructions about what to do in a particular space, at a particular time, they usually act appropriately.
We expect children at the Co-op to respect themselves, property and others. Generally, this means that no one and nothing is allowed to be hurt either physically or emotionally. Children at this age, however, are just beginning to understand what “hurts” others and things, as well as how to express their feelings appropriately.
When children come into conflict with each other, our goal as care providers is to guide them in exploring the appropriate ways to communicate their feelings. We explain to children what about their behavior is inappropriate, i.e. “It is not o.k. to hit someone.” We then acknowledge their feelings, i.e. “You seem angry at her.” We then ask the children to express their feelings appropriately, i.e. ” Can you tell ______ you are angry?” or “Say, I did not like that!”
In all three classrooms, when children are not following directions, are hurting property, or are engaging in unsafe actions, their behavior is most easily changed by redirection, i.e. ” How about going to the gym to jump and climb, because we use couches for sitting, not for jumping.” If a child is unable or unwilling to respond to redirection, we remind that child of what is appropriate and give them a choice about the next step, i.e. “Do you want to walk out of this area and chose another activity yourself or shall I help you?”
If the behavior in which a child is engaging is immediately dangerous to herself or other children, the care provider intervenes immediately, removing the child from danger or from putting other children in danger. Only then do the providers work with the child, helping them to understand why the situation is dangerous and what choices are appropriate.
When an individual child is consistently behaving inappropriately and is unresponsive to redirection or “choices” given, the staff will ask parents to join with them in setting up a plan of action that includes goals for improved behavior and a time line in which to evaluate those goals. If problems persist, every effort to help a child change inappropriate behavior has been exhausted, and it becomes clear that the environment and structure of the Co-op is not working for a particular child, the Co-op reserves the right to require a family to find a different environment for their child.