We believe all children should feel safe at school, and children learn that they cannot engage in actions that hurt themselves, others, or the school. Safety is always our priority, especially for our outside play. We use positive, proactive statements such as “Please walk to get your lunch.” instead of “Stop running!”
We encourage the children to work out their differences with each other. When needed, we will help mediate their disagreements, showing them how to talk to each other to resolve their problem. Children are discouraged from “tattling” and encouraged to give their friends a chance to right the situation. Many disagreements and hurt feelings come from misunderstood intentions. Forcing a child to say, “I’m sorry,” does not settle conflicts.
Here is an example of a disagreement and how we would handle it.
Situation: Aaron unknowingly hits Beatrice with his mat when he puts away his work. Beatrice becomes upset and tells a teacher Aaron hit her.
If the teacher only comforts Beatrice, Beatrice is not learning how to handle future problems. If the teacher decides to jump in and punish Aaron prematurely, that resolution is unfair.
Instead, the teacher can work with Beatrice to help her talk with Aaron. Beatrice could start with the statement, “Aaron, you hit me with your mat.” Since Aaron did not realize this at the time, he may become defensive and upset, “No, I didn’t!” This is a vital teaching moment. By helping Aaron understand that he accidentally hit Beatrice, his response to Beatrice can change to “I’m sorry, Beatrice. I didn’t know I hit you with my mat. Are you alright?” He may offer a hug or a tissue for her tears. Beatrice has learned to speak up for herself and knows how to handle a future problem with a friend. She has given a friend the opportunity to right a situation and, by doing that, has had her injury acknowledged. Beatrice can now thank Aaron for his sincere apology and move on with her day.
At some time, all children exhibit behavior that needs correcting. However, not all children can be disciplined the same way due to age, the frequency of the behavior, length of time spent in the environment, and child’s personality. The main points used in disciplining a child at Montessori Children’s House of Lemon Grove are:
•A child must understand what behavior is acceptable before being expected to follow that behavior.
The school rules are explained to the children as they learn the school expectations.
•A child must be able to follow the rules.
As they grow in age, the children also grow to follow the school rules.
•Behavioral choices lead to consequences.
Giving consequences is to teach a lesson that leads to positive choices. It encourages self-examination, accepting responsibility for ones’ actions, the ability to learn from mistakes, and the development of an inner voice of self-control.
Spanking, hitting, slapping, shaking, verbal or emotional abuse are not permitted.
Working for a child’s success is essential for classroom management, including anticipating a child’s behavior. Moving children closer to a teacher, reminding them of the rules before starting an activity, helping them express themselves with their words to voice their feelings, and acknowledging improved behavior are ways we discipline them.
If a child continues a hurtful or dangerous behavior, we will separate them from the group until they can control their actions. A teacher will sit near them, and when they feel ready to rejoin the group, the teacher will help them after first talking about the situation and reminding them of the rules. The teacher will help them make amends (if needed) to any friend they might have hurt with their actions or words. We do not use the term “time out.”