July 22, 2014

Preschool Classroom Management: Tips from Ron Shuali

By Erin Flynn Jay, Contributing Writer | Literacy Resources Preschool Classroom Management

As the founder of Shua Life Skills, an organization that works with preschoolers, their families and school staff to teach necessary life skills, Ron Shuali believes that the younger educators can connect with children and the adults in their lives, the better. His training focuses on preschoolers, who are learning and processing an abundance of information every day to form the foundation of their personalities.

“If we can teach these children life skills early like respect and working like a team, we can form a well-rounded and strong child. The parents and staff component simply made sense as these are the two groups of people that are around the preschoolers the most and they are the ones who are constantly being tested by the preschoolers,” said Shuali.

Frequent complaint: teachers who lack classroom management skills

A frequent problem Shuali encounters in early childhood education is a teacher who doesn’t take responsibility for classroom management. This is demonstrated clearly the moment a teacher blames a student for being “bad” or expects parents or another teacher to set the rules for that student’s behavior.

“Every child tests and evaluates the responses of each individual adult in their lives. The child will behave according to the reactions of the adult. If the adult, parent or teacher shows a reaction that the child wants, the child will display the same behavior again to illicit the same reaction,” he said.

Shua Life Skills addresses student behaviors that cause others to lose respect for them. This includes bullying, hitting, yelling, tattling and saying hurtful things. The Shua Structure System training has been used by many preschool staffs and parents.

Tips for teaching respectful behavior in the preschool classroom

Preschool teachers and parents can work together to come up with a uniform behavior management system so that the same rules apply at school and at home. Shuali offers these tips for teachers to instill respectful behavior in the classroom:

Quickly stop negative behaviors before they happen

Using a technique called a pattern interrupt immediately gets the children’s attention for two seconds. That’s all the time you’ll need. Examples of effective pattern interrupts include making any animal sound, changing your voice into an exaggerated accent, breaking out into song or saying loudly, “If you’re listening, hands in the air; If you’re listening, touch your nose…” while doing the movements with them.

Become aware of the ways adults and children miscommunicate

Any time your face and body shows a response or reaction to a behavior, you are unknowingly reinforcing that behavior. When you give a child attention for a negative behavior and don’t positively reinforce good behaviors, you teach the children that the best way to get attention from you is to display a negative behavior. That’s when Shuali introduces the Power Loo:

Get your children to choose to follow instructions

When you give a human being an instruction or command, our natural instinct is to do the opposite due to our human design. Using preframes gives the children obvious hints at what behaviors you want them to display.

For example, don’t say “Stop running around,” instead ask the question,” Do I want you running around?” and shake your head left and right repeatedly or ask “Do I want you sitting crisscross?” while nodding your head and putting emphasis on the words “crisscross.”

Become empowered and excited to get to your classrooms

Becoming empowered means becoming responsible. The moment you blame a child, parent or co-teacher for a child’s behavior, you take away your responsibility and your power in the classroom.

Consider choosing to act like you are the only human being on the planet who can make a difference for your students. If that were the case, what actions would you take when working with that child? If you want power, choose responsibility. By following these steps, Shuali says that teachers can implement an effective behavior management system with continuous optimal results.

Erin Flynn Jay is a writer, editor and publicist, working mainly with authors and small businesses since 2001. Erin’s interests also reach into the educational space, where her affinity for innovation spurs articles about early childhood education and learning strategies.

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