What is generally referred to as “discipline” is referred to as “guidance” in early childhood circles. The word “guidance” reminds early childhood educators of the important principle that children are still learning and need to be “guided.” Many of the errors that children make at this age occur because they don’t understand the expectations or because they are still learning how to control their impulses. Thus, helping them correct their mistakes and learn what to do is just as important (if not more) than actually learning what not to do.

In the preschool, children are given positive reminders about the expectations of the classroom. Teachers guide them from a disruptive situation into another situation where they can be successful. Teachers also assist children in problem-solving when they are in a disagreement with a peer. All in all, the methods that are used are positive and teach appropriate behavior as well as help children to understand what is not acceptable.

Our primary tool in guidance is our curriculum. When a child is disruptive or unengaged, we look first to our curriculum to better meet their needs. As we provide relevant and appropriate choices and clear expectations, we have minimum off-task behaviors.

Some suggested resources used in the Child and Family Studies Laboratory:

  • Bailey, B. A., (2000). Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline; The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation. New York: Harper Collins
  • Bailey, B. A., (2000). Conscious Discipline: 7 Basic Skills for Brain Smart Classroom Management. Oviedo, Florida: Loving Guidance
  • C. G. Mooney.  (2005). Use your words: How teacher talk helps children learn. Redleaf Press: St. Paul, MN