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Kindergarden--Positive Reinforcement!

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Are you at a loss as to how to get your kindergardeners under control?
Try this positive reinforcement system, it works!

First, you need to have some toys. Legos, puppets, plastic food, whatever you can find in your school or buy cheap.
You teach with a desk in front of you where the kids can see it. Say "stand up" as you stand up, "sit down" as you sit down, and finally, "Be quiet" as you put your finger to your lips in silence. Put a toy out on your desk for each kid who ceases to talk at that moment. For example, a toy on the far left corner of your desk if the kid in the far left corner is quiet. After a few days, the children know which "spot" on your desk is theirs (or you can use name tags). Do the "stand up", "sit down" and "be quiet" routine a couple of times the first few days, putting out toys each time. All the movement of standing up and sitting down gives them a physical signal that it is almost time to be quiet. Then, teach what you need to teach while leaving the toys out on your desk. (Do not allow the children to touch the toys while you teach). Take toys away from the spot on your desk of kids who talk while you are teaching or who talk during another kid's turn or who try to touch the toys. Give them play time with the toys they earned after about 10 minutes or so of teaching. I try to announce playtime when every kid still has at least 1 or 2 toys left otherwise your biggest trouble maker will burst into very loud tears about not having any toys. Only having 1 or 2 toys while everyone else has 4 or 5 seems to get the troublemakers into line while avoiding the tears. (Once you get them used to the system, you can wait until the very end of class to have play time). You should also put toys on each child's spot on your desk for correct answers (or sometimes just for participation!). That way, your troublemakers still have a lot of toys left to lose(and thus incentive to behave) if you have to take some away for misbehavior. Having a couple minutes of play time at the end of each class will really save you precious teaching time in the long run because you will not waste time constantly asking the children to be quiet. You just say "Be quiet" once and then you take their toys away from their spot on your desk if they talk out of turn during the class. It really works. The kids learn a lot and they love English class because of the toys.

I have used this system as an English teacher in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Korea. The children are very well-behaved with this system, and I never have to bother the director. I have 100% participation with my speaking lessons even with the preschoolers because the children know that not participating means no toy. Best of all, all students are in their seats participating because with this system, because you only have to put a student in time-out as a last resort. They usually get it together after losing 1 or 2 toys. With this positive system, you also avoid the low self-esteem issues of one child always being "the kid in the corner." Good luck!

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