Conflict Resolution Activities for Kids

James and John used to be besties. They were so tight, they even got chickenpox together.  But John became irritated by James always insisting on being the boss. John then came to the conclusion they could no longer be friends.  Instead, he officially declared “Let’s Be Enemies,” the title of the classic children’s tale by Janice May Udry.

Kids will be kids – and that means there are bound to be conflicts when interacting with peers during playdates, visits to the playground or during the course of an ordinary school day.

What exactly is conflict? Conflict is defined as:

“A competitive or opposing action of incompatibles; antagonistic state of action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons.”

“A mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes or external or internal demands.”

To adapt another more colorful phrase – conflict happens. As much as we may try to avoid it, conflict is simply a normal part of life.

It’s how these conflicts are handled and mitigated, from both the adult and child perspective, that may lead from tears and frustration to personal growth and development – or unfortunately, the opposite. It’s called conflict resolution, and it is the process used to settle and manage differences, ideally with a positive, win-win outcome.

How does one arrive at these peaceful resolutions?

Fear not, conflict resolution skills for kids can be taught in your classroom, and this blog will help you explore different strategies and fun and easy activities that teachers can add to their lessons.

John and James, although fictional characters, represent a relatable example of conflict resolution for kids. The two boys were able to resume their friendship because John confronted the problem and used his words rather than acting out, and James extended an olive branch – in the form of a pretzel.

Lingering effects of the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it more challenging for children to engage with each other. And that has led to unfamiliar feelings of conflict when they are once again interacting within a classroom setting.

  • Children encounter a variety of conflicts at school, which can include:
  • Jealousy
  • Stealing and property damage
  • Violence
  • Power struggles
  • Relationships ending or changing
  • Discrimination
  • Rivalries between peer groups
  • Status differences

One of the oldest childhood discipline tactics – the timeout – can also be used as a method of conflict resolution for kids. For scenarios where anger-fed disagreements are causing locked-horn stalemates, calling a timeout can be a powerful tool. When you intervene and call a timeout, each child involved in the situation agrees to walk away from the problem and is instructed not to return until they have had a chance to cool down.

This is not an avoidance. Rather, it’s a temporary suspension of the dispute until emotions and behaviors have settled down. And once you’ve taught specifically-tailored conflict resolution skills for kids, your students will be able to recognize when they need to call their own timeouts.

But as an early childhood education pro, rather than simply adjudicating the matter and meting out punishment, you can take the opportunity to build up the conflict resolution skills for kids under your watch, tools that are essential for young students to learn in order to be successful in the classroom – and in life.

“Conflict resolution skills play an important role in healthy friendship development,” writes Katie Hurley, LCSW, a child and adolescent psychotherapist and author of “No More Mean Girls” and “The Happy Kid Handbook.” “A child who struggles to cope with frustration, for example, is likely to project that frustration onto a friend. A child who has difficulty finding solutions to friendship problems might feel hopeless when an argument occurs. A child who doesn’t know how to verbalize his feelings will likely freeze up and shut down when conflict occurs.”

The benefits of nurturing conflict resolution skills for kids include the development of communication skills, the opportunity to learn how to set goals and the strengthening of friendships and relationships.

As with any other competency, practice is a proven method for approaching the development of conflict resolution for kids. With practice, they will master the concepts via repetition and naturally get more comfortable with conflict resolution strategies as they gain more experience.

And the good news is conflict resolution activities for kids can be infinitely more fun, rewarding and creative than the effective, but basic, timeout.

Lessons that focus on conflict resolution skills for kids will include teaching empathy, teaching understanding, teaching communication, teaching choice, and teaching responsibility. Your students will learn about active listening, patience, impartiality, problem-solving, and will begin to develop emotional intelligence. They’ll learn about kindness and fairness, how to manage their emotions, communicate about the issue causing conflict, solve problems together, formulate and issue authentic apologies.

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT

Unresolved conflict can fester, and sometimes lead to physical altercations when tempers boil over. Many kids, however, choose to avoid conflict altogether. But it’s important, especially in a classroom setting, to address and solve the problem in a peaceful way.

Like John from “Let’s Be Enemies” who decided to express his displeasure with his close friend James, addressing a conflict can be the first step toward resolution. Talking it out may even resolve the conflict in short order, especially in the case of a simple misunderstanding.

Therefore, opening up a dialog about conflict resolution skills for kids in your classroom is the first step toward arming your students with strategies and solutions for solving disputes.

You can get the conversation started by reading “Let’s Be Enemies” out loud to your class, discussing it, and then hosting a conflict resolution for kids brainstorming session during instruction time.

The goal of this brainstorming is to come up with solutions to specific conflicts that have arisen in your classroom. This exercise will allow your students to share their ideas freely without fear of failure, and it will empower them because they are providing the solutions, making the activity student-centric. Preparation will help them deal with and work their way through problems when any conflict arises. It also introduces them to the art of negotiation.

Utilizing brainstorming as one of your conflict resolution activities for kids will also help you get a gauge on where each student is in the development of their conflict resolution awareness, and what needs to be worked on.

If your school has a counselor on staff, it might also be a good idea to ask them to attend your session, as he/she may have some valuable insights to share with you and your students.

MORE CONFLICT RESOLUTION ACTIVITIES

Brainstorming may not be considered a fun endeavor for all of your students, including those who may be self-conscious about speaking up in a group setting, so here are a few more suggestions for livelier and creative conflict resolution activities for kids you can try.

Make a Game of It – Introduce your classroom to the classic hand game, Rock, Paper, Scissors. This can be used to solve minor disputes, like who gets to be first in line for the water fountain or the head of the lunch line.

Creating a card matching game is another simple idea when it comes to interactive conflict resolution activities for kids. In this game, children will match the conflict to the solution (the conflicts and the solutions are written on note cards). This will reinforce critical thinking skills as they begin associating specific ways to resolve specific conflicts.

If you have the budget, invest in a Junior Learning: 6 Conflict & Resolution Games set for your classroom. The six games included are: Persuasion Pot, Keep Calm Meter, Are You a Bully?, A Spinning Solution, Sharks, and Jellyfish and Turtles. This set features a variety of game styles, including matching, sorting, puzzles and snakes and ladders/chutes and ladders.

Again, if you have the funds available, a variation on the classic game Go Fish can help kids manage conflict in a fun and healthy way. Go Fish: Cast Away Conflict plays like the time-tested card game, except with a new wrinkle: players must answer an open-ended question before getting the card they have requested. In addition to fun fish characters, the set’s cards present detailed but brief conflict scenarios that players must resolve effectively and calmly. This game reinforces strategies for compromising, apologizing and listening and it teaches children to adopt behaviors that can enhance their relationships in school and out.

Listen Up – While talking and having conversations are essential to conflict resolution, so is the other part of the equation: listening. Hearing what the person (or persons) on the other side of a conflict has to say is an important aspect of resolving it. Have your classroom participate in a listening activity. Read out loud to your class a scenario that could have various outcomes and spark a variety of emotions.

Scenario: A friend promised to come over to play soccer in your yard after school, but they didn’t show up, or contact you to say they couldn’t make it. You had your mom text their mom to find out what was going on, but there was no response. Then you see them at school the next day…

Ask the class how this situation would make them feel, and have them share their feelings.

Then add more information to the scenario.

Scenario Continued: Your friend apologizes and says they could not come over to play because their parents were caught in traffic.

After hearing the other side, ask the class how they would approach and resolve this conflict. Would it be different now that more information is available?

Ask your class how conflict can help them grow? (The answer: By listening and hearing someone else’s point of view).

Role Play – Have the children come up with different scenarios involving conflict, act them out while taking on various roles, and playing out multiple outcomes and solutions. Give them another perspective by having another teacher join your class and pretend to have conflict with you, act out the scenario and gauge the class’ reaction.

Create a Story – Task your class with creating short stories, either in groups or as individuals. These stories should include conflict and end with a solution. Have the kids read aloud or act out their story so that the class can discuss them. Their stories can be presented as a puppet show or play.

Solution Sticks – Here is one of the more creative conflict resolution activities for kids ideas: Instruct  your students to bring in popsicle sticks, and when you have collected a large batch (30 or so), have them write solutions to an array of possible problems on the sticks. They can decorate the sticks colorfully as well, if they like. Place the popsicle sticks in a mason jar. When a conflict arises in the classroom and they are stumped on ways to resolve it, they can take a stick from the jar and try the solution that is listed on it. As they get better at resolving conflict, they will rely less on the jar of solutions.

Peacemaker Promise – Have your students make a pledge to resolve conflicts peacefully by taking the Peacemaker Promise. Prior to taking the oath, teach your class the differences between a peacemaker and a peacebreaker. Create a lapel pin or button to go with the pledge and host a formal oath and pinning ceremony.

MORE TOOLS & ACTIVITIES

Conflict Resolution Journal – Have your students start a journal dedicated to conflict resolution for kids. Following a conflict or disagreement, instruct your students to record the experience. Doing this will help them organize their thoughts, work through problems and recognize triggers, warning signs and patterns. You can also encourage parents to have their children keep up with this journal at home.

Deep Breathing – In the heat of conflict, engaging in a deep breathing exercise can help your combatants, we mean students, manage their emotions. Deep breathing is an effective conflict resolution for kids tool, easy and discreet so that it can be employed virtually anywhere, including your classroom.

Instruct your students to find a spot to sit comfortably and place one hand on their bellies. Tell them to breathe in through their noses, deeply enough that their stomachs rise. They should hold the air in their lungs, then exhale slowly through their mouths, with lips pursed as if they are blowing through a straw. Instruct them to go slowly with their breathing – inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds and exhale for six seconds. Practice this for three to five minutes.

Diversions – Similar to a timeout, the goal of a diversion is to buy time so that a conflict can be resolved in a healthy and peaceful manner without the ramped up intensity of heated emotions. Kids can return to the source of conflict and anger after setting the situation aside for the present and doing something else.  Of course the following suggestions may or may not fit into your lesson plan or classroom, but they can be suggested to students for trying at home.

Suggested diversions to cope with conflict:

  • Going for a walk
  • Reading a book
  • Playing a sport
  • Listening to music or playing an instrument
  • Drawing, painting or doing a craft
  • Playing a game
  • Playing with a pet
  • Cleaning, organizing or rearranging a room

To provide incentives for good development of their conflict resolution skills, send a letter of commendation home with your students, or create a gold-star chart to track and reward their successes.

STORY TIME

In addition to “Let’s Be Enemies,” there are several children’s books related to conflict resolution that may be available in your school’s library.

Here are 10 suggested books that will engage young minds with stories about conflict resolution for kids which are focused, understandable and relatable.

  1. “The Story of Ferdinand,” by Munro Leaf.
  2. “Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad,” (series) by Jacky Davis.
  3. “The Recess Queen,” by Alexis O’ Neill.
  4. “The Mine-O-Saur,” by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.
  5. “The Squirrels Who Squabbled,” by Rachel Bright.
  6. “A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue,” by Julia Cook.
  7. “Enemy Pie,” by Derek Munson.
  8. “Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon,” by Patty Lovell.
  9. “The Tale of Pip and Squeak,” by Kate Duke.
  10. “Spaghetti in a Hotdog Bun,” by Maria Dismondy.

Check some of these titles out and read them to your class, discuss them with your students and reinforce the development of conflict resolution skills for children on a regular basis.

If you want to learn more about conflict resolution skills for kids, CCEI offers Conflict Resolution in the Early Childhood Environment. This three-hour intermediate course explores practices and strategies for resolving and addressing various emotional, behavioral and social conflicts that teachers are likely to encounter in the classroom.

Additionally, CCEI also offers a number of related courses on conflict resolution, such as Foundations of Positive Guidance, which explores the elements of child development that influence positive guidance strategies and basic implementation practices to use in the classroom. The course also covers the importance of working with families to establish consistent positive guidance practices at school and home.

To learn more about these courses as well as our entire catalog of 150+ offerings and certifications, click here.

Prosocial Behavior in Early Childhood

Did you know prosocial skills in preschoolers begin to develop before most children turn two? Studies have even shown that children as young as one demonstrated the ability to try and comfort others in distress.

Prosocial behavior is conduct intended to help others, which includes actions such as comforting, cooperating, sharing, and more.

For toddlers, prosocial behavior in early childhood plays an enormous role in their overall development. By teaching prosocial skills in early childhood, it will impact your students’ academic performance, attitude, emotional state, frame of mind, motivation and so much more.

Prosocial behavior in early childhood begins with small, kind, and thoughtful actions that show regard for others (you’ve witnessed this anytime you’ve seen a child hand a toy to another person). And the great thing is you’re likely already promoting prosocial skills in preschoolers by encouraging these types of behaviors.

There are a number of tactics you can use for teaching prosocial skills in early childhood.

Sharing is caring 

Whether you first learned this from the Care Bears, your parents or a teacher, this is perhaps the most well-known (and important) prosocial behavior in early childhood to teach. And the best part is you can incorporate this into just about every lesson plan.

For instance, choose any of these stories from Teaching Expertise’s list of 22 children’s books about sharing to read during storytime. Then, after reading the story, talk to your class about why sharing is good.

You can also incorporate games and activities that promote sharing to help develop prosocial skills in preschoolers. We love this list of easy activities from Love to Know.

Finally, one of the best ways to reinforce this important prosocial behavior in early childhood is to acknowledge good examples of sharing in your students and give children plenty of praise when you see them sharing.

Teamwork makes the dream work 

Teaching cooperation is another key skill to address when discussing prosocial behavior in early childhood.

When you teach a child to cooperate, you teach him or her to work with someone else in a meaningful way where they learn to balance their own interests with another person’s wants and needs.

That’s why this ranks so high on the list of items for teaching prosocial skills in early childhood.

There are several ways to incorporate cooperation into your classroom.

For starters, have your children take turns. This may come in the form of turn-taking games, building turn-taking into play time, incorporating books about teamwork into story time (here’s a wonderful list from Imagination Soup), and more.

You can also incorporate turn-taking into every aspect of your classroom routine. For example, when lining up to go outside, make sure each student has a turn being at the front of the line.

There are also several ways to help reinforce turn-taking and cooperation when teaching prosocial skills in early childhood. It’s helpful to use language such as “my turn, your turn,” visual cues and music to measure the length of a turn (this can help them predict when their turn begins/ends making it less likely they’ll become frustrated).

Again, as we mentioned above, it’s important to always reinforce good behavior by pointing out and applauding when your students demonstrate good examples of cooperative behavior.

I feel ‘ya

You can’t discuss prosocial skills in preschoolers and not cover empathy.

Toddlers will begin to exhibit genuine empathy around the age of two (and even respond with care by trying to soothe another child’s pain).

There are several ways you can promote this prosocial behavior in your classroom.

For starters, choose books that teach empathy and kindness (check out this Brightly list for inspo). After you read the story, talk to your students about the kindness displayed in the book. You can also discuss how your kids can model the same behavior in the classroom.

Another great way to promote empathy and kindness is by discussing others’ feelings and going a step further by suggesting how a child can demonstrate empathy. For example, if Suzy falls down on the playground, you might say, “Suzy is sad because she fell down and scraped her knee (talking about her feelings). Let’s get her a bandaid for her ouchie (demonstrating empathy).”

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, CCEI offers a number of courses to help you with teaching prosocial skills in early childhood and ways to encourage prosocial behavior in early childhood.

If you’re looking for a place to begin, our one-hour beginner-level course Promoting Empathy and Other Prosocial Behaviors is a great place to start. This course examines recent social research into empathy and other prosocial behaviors, as well as recommended strategies and practices for guiding children through the early phases of empathy’s long developmental process.

You may also want to explore Building Social and Emotional Competence. This two-hour beginner-level course explores how social and emotional skills develop over time and ways that teachers can use their understanding of this development to create an environment that supports children’s individual needs.

For more on these courses that will help you instill prosocial skills in preschoolers, as well as our entire catalog of courses, click here.

Why Do Kids Hate School and How You Can Help Them Get Motivated

“Why do kids hate school?” is a question we hear a lot.

If you get it, too, don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal if your students don’t love every minute of going to school.

Thankfully, there are a number of easily explainable causes and ways you can work with your kiddos’ parents to not only address the issue but turn those frowns upside down and get your little learners excited for the classroom.

At ChildCare Education Institute, we’ve spent over two decades helping teachers like you become the best versions of themselves. As a result, we’ve answered the question: “Why do kids hate school?” a number of times over the years.

Below, you’ll find some of the most common reasons why kids hate school and solutions for what to do when your kid hates school.

Waking up in time to make it out the door in the morning:

Let’s be honest, you probably find it difficult to wake up and get going some days (especially when you haven’t had your morning cup of Joe).

Your students are no different.

If you (or your students’ parents and caregivers) ask, “why do kids hate school?” this might be the simplest explanation.

There are any number of reasons a child might not like waking up early. However, the most common is usually because they aren’t getting enough rest at night. Another reason could be their morning routine at home. Regardless, this is one of the top reasons why kids hate school.

What to do when your kid hates school because they don’t want to wake up on time: 

As a teacher, the main thing you can do is to help parents and caregivers understand how they can help their kids with this and motivate them, so they’re up and at ‘em, out the door, and to the classroom on time.

The most important thing is ensuring a child is getting proper rest. In order to accomplish this, it’s good to remind parents that getting children to bed at a reasonable hour (along with consistent bedtimes) will help.

You may also coach parents on how they wake up their child in the morning. Light is important since your body’s circadian rhythm responds to it. Studies show that when light is incorporated, people find it easier to get out of bed. You might also recommend parents use a happy wake-up song to get their children moving in the morning.

Third, while we’re on the topic of morning rituals, there are a handful of other things you can recommend to parents to make routines easier on everyone. These can include choosing their child’s outfit the night before, prepping their snacks and lunch ahead of time, and ensuring there’s ample time in the morning for your family’s routine.

There are also a number of things you can do on your end, such as greeting each student with a smile and excitement as they enter the classroom. After all, attitude is contagious, so when you make arrival fun, it helps create a positive attitude for your little learners, and they’ll be excited to wake up and get to the classroom for the day’s activities.

There are several wonderful online resources to inspire you for setting the right morning mood in your classroom. We especially love this list from Primary Delight.

Being away from their parents/caregiver:

We’ve all been there. A seemingly happy and exuberant child melts into a puddle of tears when their parent turns to leave dropoff.

If you’re wondering why do kids hate school, look no further than they don’t like being away from their parents or caregiver.

In many cases, these tantrum-filled goodbyes are perfectly normal, and even the most well-adjusted child is bound to have an outburst here or there. However, for children who suffer from more severe separation anxiety, it’s a prime driver for why kids hate school.

What to do when your kid hates school because they don’t like being away from their parents or caregiver:

Regardless of how long separation anxiety lasts (in some cases, depending on the child, separation anxiety can last through the elementary school years), there are a few ways to help.

You can recommend parents work on being apart from their children. For example, suggest they practice time away by leaving their child with a babysitter or caregiver for longer and longer periods of time. We also suggest remaining calm during the goodbye ritual and making sure parents reassure their children they’ll be back.

It’s also important to remember while you see meltdowns on a regular basis, this is likely new for first-time parents, so it’s good to reassure them that this is perfectly normal and that it’s only a phase.

Being told what to do

This probably comes as no surprise, but another reason why kids hate school is because they simply don’t like being told what to do all day long (even though structure is so important for them – more on that below).

After all, who likes being told what to do? We don’t, and chances are you don’t either. And we all know toddlers don’t, which is another reason why kids hate school.

As children develop, they want to experience autonomy and independence – this gives them a sense of mastery of their bodies and environment. It’s important to help them understand the world around them, begin learning how to express themselves, and help boost their self-esteem.

So, when they feel their autonomy is under attack, they’re going to rebel.

What to do when your kid hates school because they don’t like being told what to do:

Luckily, you can combat this issue with a number of tactics, including giving them opportunities to make choices. For example, let them choose which book to read during storytime. Or, give them free play where they’re allowed to choose whichever toy they want. When you give them choices versus telling them what to do, they get to explore their independence.

You can also give them responsibilities. For example, have them help you with simple classroom tasks. This will give them a sense of independence, and accomplishment and is also a great way to channel all their energy.

Not enough structure 

Toddlers crave routines and structure because it creates an environment of predictability. At this young age, kids need this to feel safe and better understand how to master the world around them. Structure also helps students better understand boundaries.

When structure is absent, your students will feel anxious, which is another common reason why kids hate school.

What to do when your kid hates school because there’s not enough structure

There are a number of ways to create structure in the classroom, and below are our top three.

Consider the physical layout of your room. You want to maximize your teacher-student interaction, minimize disruptions and make transitions as efficient as possible.

Make sure you set expectations and stick to them. Once you’ve got your list of classroom rules, make sure you review each rule one-by-one with your students, so everyone understands them, and don’t be afraid to revisit them every day throughout the day.

Ensure you set a daily schedule and stick to it. When you implement a consistent schedule, your kiddos know what to expect and when which eliminates a lot of uncertainty and helps you eliminate disruptions, and keeps everyone happy and learning.

Struggling with the lessons

It’s no secret we’re all drawn to the things we’re good at, and we tend to shy away from the things we have trouble mastering. And the same goes for toddlers.

In most cases, adults can simply choose to pursue other interests, but toddlers don’t have the same luxury. After all, at this stage in their lives, there are a number of developmental milestones, including gross motor, fine motor, sensory, language, and social skills, they need to master to reach their full potential.

If you’re asking yourself why do kids hate school, this is probably the most likely reason, but also one of the most complex ones to address.

What to do when your kid hates school because they struggle with learning: 

It’s important to identify the potential reasons a child is struggling. Is it because they simply aren’t progressing at the same rate as their classmates, or is there something more serious going on, like a developmental delay?

Regardless, if you believe this is the reason a child hates school, it’s important to act quickly and develop a course of action that includes the parents or caregiver.

At CCEI, we offer a number of relevant courses to help you address this issue and further answer the question of “why do kids hate school?” including Assessing Young Children (parts one, two, and three), Brain Development and Learning: What Every Early Care and Education Professional Should Know and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about these offerings, as well as our entire catalog of 150+ courses, visit our catalog today to learn why we’re the number one provider of professional learning for teachers just like you.

 

Issues in Early Childhood Education in 2022

Since the beginning of organized childcare, providers have faced a number of issues in early childhood education. Not to mention the onslaught of additional challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At ChildCare Education Institute, we’ve spent the last 15+ years helping teachers navigate life in and out of the classroom. As a result, we’ve seen first-hand the problems facing early childhood education — and we’ve learned that the first step to addressing these problems is a better awareness of them.

That’s why we’re breaking down the most prominent issues in early childhood education and how you can best tackle them.

Workplace burnout.

One of the leading problems facing early childhood education is an escalating rate of teacher burnout. According to a 2022 poll, nearly half of all preschool teachers admitted to experiencing high levels of stress and burnout over the past few years.

While some of that stress is inherent to the job, most of the additional burnout has come from a severe staffing shortage affecting centers and programs across the country. Since early 2020, 8.4% of the childcare workforce has left for other professions — which is especially worrying considering many centers were experiencing staffing problems before the pandemic.

As a result, the teachers that stayed are dealing with longer hours, larger classrooms, and in some cases, new, mixed-age teaching environments.

For those educators lucky enough to find themselves at fully staffed centers, there are still a number of new stressors brought about by COVID-19, including new safety measures, check-in protocols, and more.

What can you do?: If you’re an educator experiencing workplace burnout, our course Stress Management for Child Care Providers is a great first step toward learning how to cope with your professional stress. We also recommend scheduling a regular time to reflect on the positives of each day and remember what drew you to early childhood education in the first place.

Mental health concerns.

 Though mental health has always been one of the prominent issues in early childhood education, COVID-19 has truly brought it to the forefront. In Virginia alone, depression among preschool teachers has risen by 15% since the start of the pandemic. While this would be troubling for any profession, it’s especially hard for teachers as their mood can directly impact their student’s ability to learn and comprehend the material. Funding issues in early childhood education can also lead to a lack of resources for teachers who want to seek help.

What can you do?: If you’re experiencing any symptoms of declining mental health, the most important thing to do is seek help. We recommend starting with this list of 50 resources from Teach.com.

Lack of resources.

Funding issues in early childhood education are another hurdle many teachers face. According to a recent study conducted by The Century Fund, the United States is underfunding public schools by nearly $150 billion annually. As a result, many childcare providers have to dip into their own pockets to make up for the small classroom budgets they’re given — something that’s especially challenging given most teachers are already underpaid.

What can you do?: While there’s nothing you can do to solve funding issues in early childhood education overnight, there are a number of scholarship and grant programs available to help teachers with classroom and professional development expenses. For more information on the latter, click here.

Low levels of compensation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, early childhood educators earn an average annual wage of $30,210 in the United States (with the lowest 10% making just $21,900 per year). When compared to the average public school teacher’s salary of $65,090, it’s no surprise that compensation is among the top problems facing early childhood education.

Because the average salary for the profession is so low, most educators are forced to take on a second job or rely on public income support programs to make ends meet. These can significantly add to a teacher’s burnout and can cause stress that spills over into their personal life.

What can you do?: If you’re looking to advocate for higher wages and other funding issues in early childhood education, there are a number of groups you can join, including NAEYC. You can also help set yourself apart — and potentially raise your earning potential — by earning a well-respected certification, such as your Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential.

Heightened safety concerns.

Another one of the top issues in early childhood education is safety. Since the start of 2022, there have been more than 300 mass shootings — equating to roughly four per week. While not all of these shootings have taken place at schools, enough have left teachers worried about their workplace safety.

In addition to worrying about their own safety while at work, early childhood educators also often have to worry about the safety of their students. Because children attending childcare programs can range anywhere from just a few months to six years of age, there are a number of physical and environmental dangers present at any given time. Therefore, teachers have to constantly be on guard, something that can lead to increased levels of stress and fatigue.

What can you do?: One of the best ways to address safety concerns in the workplace is to feel confident in your abilities to avoid and — in the worst case — deal with any issues that may arise. Some of our top-rated safety courses include:

  • Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning for Natural and Man-Made Events
  • Fire Safety in the Early Care and Education Environment
  • Indoor Safety in the Early Childhood Setting
  • Outdoor Safety in the Early Childhood Setting

Ever-evolving technologies.

When COVID-19 hit, schools across the country raced to adopt virtual learning environments that allowed their students to connect and engage without having to attend in-person sessions. While it proved to be an effective way to limit the spread of coronavirus, it didn’t come without its own share of challenges.

For some families, a lack of access to technology meant they were no longer able to receive the instruction they needed. For others, not being able to have one-on-one time with educators led to a decline in learning. Finally, despite the best attempts from schools and video conferencing providers, teachers and students still fell victim to technology issues, including lack of connectivity, dropped calls, and more.

As the pandemic waned and in-person learning resumed, many schools opted to keep hybrid learning as an option for their students. Despite the added convenience this affords some families, it has also greatly contributed to one of the top issues in early childhood education: technology.

As technology changes in the classroom, teachers must race to keep up with it.

The same goes for the technology students interact with.

Teachers today have to decide how to incorporate technology into their classrooms, what screen time limits to set for their students and how to navigate a digital landscape that’s different every year.

What can you do?: The best way to combat the ever-changing technology landscape in early childhood education is to make sure you’re staying up-to-date on industry recommendations and research. Our The Child’s Digital Universe: Technology and Digital Media in Early Childhood course is the perfect place to start.

Lack of parent engagement and communication.

As any teacher can attest to, trying to build an engaged and communicative parent base is another one of the prominent issues in early childhood education. Unlike other professions, teachers have to deal with the 20+ personalities in their classroom, as well as the 40+ personalities of those students’ guardians. Not to mention the frustration that can result from parents who are never present — or those who are overly present.

Plus, funding issues in early childhood education can often hamper parent-teacher communication. For example, some programs might not have the funds available to provide teachers with software that allows them to quickly send email blasts to all families. As a result, educators may find themselves having to send important updates via email one family at a time.

What can you do?: While parent-teacher communication will likely always be one of the problems facing early childhood education, there are things you can do as a teacher to lessen the effect it has on you and your classroom. One of those resources is our course Parent Communication: Building Partners in the Educational Process.

Want to learn more about the top issues in early childhood education and how to combat them? Our online courses can help!

Click here to explore our 150+ topics covering everything from child development to classroom management to addressing the problems facing early childhood education.

Current Trends in Early Childhood Education

As a busy preschool teacher, it can be difficult to stay on top of trends in early childhood education while you’re focused on teaching and nurturing your young flock and balancing the pressures of complying with various administrative mandates thrown your way.

The industry is evolving, and it is essential for educators to evolve with it to serve their students best and to foster engagement with classroom parents and guardians too.

Thankfully, you don’t have to scour the internet for the latest relevant trends because we’ve done the legwork for you.

We’ve mapped out an overview of current trends in early childhood education so you’ll know what to look out for, along with links to further resources and studies and professional development options to increase your knowledge and readiness.

THE BIG PICTURE

Early mental health awareness: Of the many conversations the pandemic forced onto our collective plates, mental health has surely been top of mind as one of the foremost trends in early childhood education, especially as in-person learning got us all back together. Young children are no exception to feeling the emotional and mental upheaval of isolation, social distancing, and a changed home life dynamic. What is your role as a teacher? You can be a true beacon, the first line of defense as teachers. The National Institute of Mental Health offers some tips on identifying the potential signs of mental health issues in young children to help you navigate one of the most complicated current trends in early childhood education.

Early literacy: The trend toward teaching preschoolers the fundamentals of literacy will continue, following the mantra that it’s never too early to begin academic-style learning. Leading to another time-tested educational adage: literacy is the gateway to learning. The U.S. Department has an easy three-step recommendation for boosting early literacy in your classroom: talk, read, and sing together. Plenty of online resources offer detailed tips for implementing one of the most engaging and interactive current trends in early childhood education.

Technology, technology, technology: Technology is one of the trends in early childhood education that’s not trendy – i.e., it’s not a fad or flash in the pan. The latest advances in technology will continue to transform the average preschool setting, so there’s plenty of incentive to boost your technology acumen as a teacher while staying ahead of the curve. Think of it as opening Pandora’s Box in a good way, as technology allows greater access to an ever-expanding range of online educational tools for your students – and you’ll be the master of these tools.

This leads us directly to…

THE HI-DEF PICTURE

Remote/hybrid learning: While the pandemic necessitated remote/distance learning in many areas, it also showcased the capabilities and, unfortunately, the vulnerabilities of teaching students via video conferencing. According to Education Week, remote learning is here to stay, but it needs to improve. What is more likely, save for another pandemic or similar disaster, is a shift to hybrid learning models for preschoolers, meaning that some remote learning days are built into the in-person schedule – we’re already seeing this in coastal districts that are impacted by severe weather. This is, of course, a monumental challenge for preschool teachers, but thankfully the National Association of State Boards of Education has updated its policy for Remote Learning in Early Childhood Education to provide an effective model for school boards and educators.

Artificial Intelligence: With Artificial Intelligence (AI) helping your banking transactions via virtual assistants and getting you a quote on car insurance, it’s no surprise to discover AI tools being increasingly utilized in the area of early childhood education. The intent, of course, is to enhance the development and learning of young children and aid in teaching as well. And since it is one of the most prolific technology trends in early childhood education, it is imperative that AI is on your radar as a preschool educator. Introducing children to AI at a young age boosts their readiness for STEM, which in turn cultivates their overall academic growth.

Mobile Device Use/Apps: It’s not simply computers and smart boards; technology trends in early education are also taking advantage of those on-the-go devices that have become ubiquitous with adults – tablets and apps. Your district or school may have recommended and/or approved apps that can be used in your classroom, but there are many more resources available of the best educational apps for kids, some of which are appropriate for preschool-aged children.

THE CONTINUING PICTURE

Now, it’s time for some homework. For further reading, here are some scholarly works, studies, and other resources related to trends in early childhood education, as well as technology trends in early childhood education.

Want an easier way to keep up with current trends in early childhood education, including technology trends?

If this article has piqued your interest and you’re ready to invest in furthering your education, consider taking one, or several, of our courses designed to help preschool professionals keep pace with current trends in early childhood education. That includes:

  • Coding in Early Childhood Education, which provides you with an understanding of how to support young children’s learning of coding and computational thinking through hands-on, playful, and creative ways. Additionally, you will learn what coding is and how it can be used to support self-expression and creativity during the foundational early childhood years.
  • Robotics In Early Childhood Education: Hands-On and Playful Approaches, which provides you with an understanding of the benefits of using educational robotics kits in early childhood settings. The course explores foundational facts about robotics, programming, and engineering, and you will also discover ways to incorporate robotics activities to support creativity, play, and hands-on learning in your classroom.
  • Technology and Social Media Policy in the Early Care and Education Environment, which examines the impact of digital technologies, the Internet, and social media on the early care and education environment and offers recommended strategies and best practices for using technological tools.

If you want to stay up to date on trends in early childhood education, CCEI has you covered with a catalog of 150+ online courses that can be accessed 24/7/365. Visit CCEI online to learn more about our entire range of offerings so you can be the best educator possible!

How to Deal with Challenging Behaviors in Preschool

We’ve all been there: You’re trying to get through a lesson on the ABC’s but every time you start a new sentence, one of your students feels the need to join in about something completely unrelated.

At ChildCare Education Institute, we’ve spent the past 20+ years training educators like you to become the best possible teacher for your students. As a result, we know firsthand how difficult it can be trying to deal with challenging behaviors in preschool.

Thankfully, we’ve put together this resource to help you become an expert in how to respond to children’s challenging behavior — and learn to prevent similar outbursts in the future.

What are challenging behaviors in preschool?

As an early childhood educator, it’s no surprise that your students are still learning and growing. And, as part of that developmental journey, they’re slowly learning how to express their thoughts, regulate their emotions and interact with their environment and peers. During this time of exploration, they’re bound to have some mishaps — including some of the most common challenging behaviors in preschool like:

  • Biting
  • Temper tantrums
  • Hitting
  • Talking out of turn
  • Screaming
  • Refusing to cooperate
  • Throwing toys and/or other objects
  • Lashing out

No matter the challenging behavior, it’s crucial that you separate the problem from the child and remember that no kid is perfect (or the sum of their mistakes). Instead, it’s about helping the child understand the error of their ways, learn from it and grow in the future.

What are some tips for responding to challenging behaviors?

Now that you know what the behaviors are, it’s important to understand how to respond to children’s challenging behavior in the classroom. Some of our favorite tips include:

Remain Calm: It’s understandable to feel frustrated when one of your students is throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of your music lesson. But, if you don’t take a moment to collect your emotions, you might respond by lashing out and showing that frustration. Not only is that detrimental to your relationship with the student who is acting out (and those who are watching), but it can also encourage the student to mirror your emotions and continue acting out. Instead, take a deep breath and pause before deciding how to respond to the student. This will help you respond more rationally to the behavior, and it can serve as an example to your students on how to respond to others who act out.

Change the Setting: Challenging behaviors aren’t just annoying for you; they’re also disruptive for other students and can take away from their learning experience. With that in mind, we recommend encouraging students who are acting out to take part in another activity or move to another area, if possible. This can help contain the behavior and ensure your other students still feel supported. It can also help in de-escalating the situation. However, it’s important to let your student know why they’re being moved to another area (or taking place in a different activity) and ensure they still feel supported and attended to.

Teach Them Other Ways to Respond: Instead of simply telling your students what they’re doing is wrong, turn the moment into a learning opportunity and teach them better ways to handle the situation in the future. For example, if Johnny snatched a book out of Isaac’s hands because he wanted to look at it, let him know that in the future he should stop and ask Isaac if they can share the book instead. This will help your students learn how to better express their emotions and will help prevent them from repeating bad behaviors in the future.

Practice Positive Reinforcement: For some students, challenging behaviors may be their way of trying to get attention. That’s why it’s crucial for teachers to make a habit of recognizing when their students do good — even if it’s a small act. One of our favorite ways to do this is by instituting daily “good job rewards.” Did Sally offer to help pass out art supplies? Did Marquis notice his friend crying and come to console them? They should both be rewarded in front of the class and notes should go home to let their parents know (so they can celebrate the behavior at home). You can even go the extra mile and create a chart to display good acts throughout the week.

Let Parents Know of Recurring Challenges: Children don’t stop learning and growing when they leave the classroom. So, if you notice that one of your students is starting to have consistent behavior issues, set aside time to talk to their parents about the challenge and how they can support their child at home. By talking with their immediate family members, you might also be able to gain more insight into why the behavior is happening, which can help you better support the student in class. If necessary, make an action plan with the family about how you can both work in tandem to help their kid turn over a new leaf. This should include realistic, attainable goals along with a timeline for when those goals will be met and steps both parties will take to meet them.

Keep Routines: Another common cause of challenging behaviors in preschool is students’ inability to deal with change. Thankfully, creating and maintaining regular routines inside the classroom can help with this. At the beginning of the year, create a semi-regular schedule for each school day. For example, you can start each morning with some quiet individual assignments before moving into a larger circle time. In addition to creating regular schedule blocks, we also recommend creating transition activities to help your kiddos go from activity to activity. This sense of routine will help your students better anticipate what’s happening throughout the day and can help reduce (or eliminate) outbursts from students who don’t want to go from coloring to learning.

Reflect on Your Responses: You’re likely to experience a number of challenging behaviors over the course of your teaching career and, like your students, you can learn from each one. Create a reflection journal where you write about any behaviors you experienced that day and how you dealt with them. Are there things you could have done better? Were there techniques you found especially effective? Write them all down in your journal, so you can reflect back on them from time to time. Be sure to keep your filled-out journal at your desk so it’s easy to reference should you need to consult it in the future.

How to help a child with challenging behaviors?

Responding to challenging behaviors in preschool is only half the battle. The other half is finding out the “why” behind the behavior and helping the student grow and develop out of their bad habits.  So, when it comes to how to help a child with challenging behaviors, here are some of our top tips:

Be Clear with Expectations: One of the easiest ways to help students behave better is to be clear about what you expect from them. On the first day of school, walk your students through your classroom rules. If possible, try to explain the “why” behind each rule so they can better understand why you’re making each request. For example, you can let them know they should be quiet when the teacher is talking so that their fellow students can better hear the lesson. Then, create an easy-to-follow chart (containing plenty of graphics for younger students) that they can refer to throughout the year. When a student misbehaves, you can refer to the chart to help them understand why their challenging behavior isn’t appropriate.

Incorporate Social and Emotional Skills Training: As we mentioned, a lot of challenging behaviors in preschool occur when students are trying to express themselves but don’t know how. By incorporating regular lessons on social skills into your curriculum, you can help your students understand how to recognize their emotions and deal with them in a healthy way. The best part? Incorporating skills training into your lessons can be as simple as selecting emotions-focused books to read during storytime or doing emotions-themed worksheets and activities.

Check In Regularly with Your Students: Another answer for how to help a child with challenging behaviors is to regularly check in with them and see how they’re doing. This can be something simple like having them complete a daily feelings chart or something more in-depth like hosting morning one-on-one sessions. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to use the time to ask the child how they’re feeling and ensure they know you’re a resource for them to go to no matter what.

Promote Positive Peer-to-Peer Relationships: Having healthy peer relationships is crucial for students’ growth and development — and it can help prevent future behavior mishaps. Ensure your classroom is a place of warmth and positivity by planning activities that help your students form bonds with one another. For example, you can host regular “compliment circles” where students take turns complimenting others around them. You can also help children in your classroom bond by hosting events like show-and-tell that allow them to learn more about each other.

Provide Students with Creative Outlets: Our final tip for how to help a child with challenging behaviors is to provide them with plenty of opportunities to let their creativity shine. Whether it’s unstructured free play or finger painting sessions, being able to let out their thoughts and emotions in a constructive way will help children mature and develop. These sessions can also be combined with social and emotional skills training to provide children with a time to reflect on how they feel and how to best express those feelings.

Consider Other Accommodations: If you have a student that’s consistently showing signs of challenging behavior, it may be worth meeting with other school professionals to see if special accommodations might help. This could be moving their desk to another area of the classroom or something more in-depth like pairing them with an aid.

Create a Calm Down Area in Your Classroom: Sometimes, simply giving students an area to retreat to when they’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed can help prevent bad behavior. That’s why we recommend turning a corner of your classroom (or a small section) into a “calm down” area. This area should be stocked with items that can help calm your students, such as stress balls and emotions cards. You can also provide students with their own journal to keep in the corner that they can fill out when they visit the space.

What resources are available to help you deal with challenging behavior in preschool?

You’re not alone in your search for how to respond to children’s challenging behavior. In fact, there are a number of resources available to help you create a more calm, stress-free classroom. Some of those include:

Mobile Crisis Intervention Services: If you have a student that appears to be going through a mental health or behavioral crisis, most states have intervention service teams that can help. These teams are trained to provide over-the-phone and sometimes in-person consultations and support. We recommend looking up the services offered in your state and printing out their contact information for easy future reference.

The Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CoE for IECMHC): CoE for IECMHC is a prevention-based support group that aims to equip caregivers with the tools and knowledge they need to support children’s healthy social and emotional development. Their consultants are available to work alongside you and come up with action plans to support specific students,

Our Online Courses: Want the answers to more of your top early education questions like how to help a child with challenging behaviors or how to respond to children’s challenging behavior? Our online courses can help! We have over 150 topics (available in English and Spanish) that touch on the issues facing teachers today. While you’re learning about how to respond to children’s challenging behavior, you can also brush up on similar topics including positive guidance and helping children cope with trauma.

So, what are you waiting for? Click here to explore all of our courses — including one on further understanding challenging behaviors in preschool — and start on your learning journey today!

Technology in Early Childhood Education

Children in the 21st century are growing up in the most technologically advanced era to date. Kids can pick up almost any piece of technology and learn the ins and outs within minutes. From TV screens to iPads to learning tablets, some kids had technology in their hands before they were a year old.

While it’s important for children to have multiple mediums of learning, some of which should not include technology, there is an abundance of technology that is super useful in the classroom to help students thrive.

At ChildCare Education Institute, we’re dedicated to providing teachers like you with the highest-quality training resources available to help you become the best possible educator. And, because we have a number of courses focused on the best ways to use technology in early childhood education, we’re sharing our insights on how best to use technology to your advantage to help your students reach their full potential.

When was technology in education introduced?

According to Purdue University, it was the introduction of the radio, which made it possible for students to listen to on-air classes, in the 1920s that started it all and sparked a brand new wave of learning in the classroom, showcasing the advantages of technology in early childhood education.

Here’s a list of what came next:

  • 1930: The overhead projector which let  teachers showcase work to the entire class at one time creating comradery and group learning in the classroom.
  • 1950: Headphones for listening to music and on-air classes on the radio for children.
  • 1951: Videotapes which brought the magic of the big screen into the classroom introducing an incredible new way for children to learn. From instructional videos to historical movies, videos opened a different avenue for teachers.
  • 1959: The photocopier allowed for mass production of instructional materials.
  • 1972: Handheld calculators appeared making quick mathematical calculations the norm.
  • 1972: The Scantron system, by Michael Sokolski, let teachers grade tests quickly and efficiently.

Finally, the personal computer was introduced in the 1980s. At the time, there was around one computer for every 125 students in the classroom. Now, when students enter the classroom, it’s expected that there is one computer for every three students, and sometimes, one computer for each student in well funded schools. Now, computers are in the classroom starting at preschool.

What are the advantages of technology in early childhood education?

There are a ton of advantages to all the assistive technology in early childhood education. From computers to e-learning tablets, video players, projectors and more, technology plays an important role in today’s early childhood classroom. Here are several advantages of technology in early childhood education:

  • Students become more engaged: Students, even at a young age, can interact with content on a new level thanks to the entertaining graphics, speed and capabilities of technology. Students can create fun presentations and computer graphics to showcase their work. Computers and iPads in the classroom can also be used for digital art which can help with fine motor skills and expressing creativity. As an added bonus, digital art saves paper which saves trees!
  • Access to more information: The days of printing out endless copies of book excerpts and photos to show students continue to dwindle. Teachers spending their own funds to find multiple copies of the same assignment or book now have the saving grace of technology. Technology allows for an unlimited amount of access to information. Now, students can all read the same book or complete the same assignment via computer or e-learning tablet without the physical copy in their hands. The internet expands what is available to children and widens their horizon with every search.
  • Promotes digital literacy: Assistive technology in early childhood education can be a powerful tool for promoting digital literacy. Using technology in early childhood education allows children to use items like computers and tablets for reading games and constructive learning activities rather than for passive entertainment. Technology is going to be a big part of their lives throughout their childhood and adulthood, so getting them used to operating a computer will be a huge advantage.
  • Easily keeping track of student progress: When work, even at a young age, is completed with technology, it can be easily logged and saved. Teachers can keep a file of the child’s tasks throughout the school year and seamlessly track their progress and compare their work as they go. Using technology to record videos and stories provides a helpful visual into the child’s progress. Additionally, sharing this work with parents or caregivers becomes easier than ever. Long gone are the days of keeping stacks of papers in folders when technology makes it that much more simple.

What are the disadvantages of technology in early childhood education?

  • Added element of teaching: Students might be at different levels of knowing how to operate  technology in early childhood education so this can create an added element for teachers. On top of having students at various levels, teachers also have to monitor how each student interacts with the technology so they don’t struggle with learning the machines on top of the lessons. It may take some extra time with students during school hours or after class to make sure children feel comfortable with technology. Teaching how to use each piece of assistive technology in early childhood education may also require an additional lesson to the curriculum, purely for teaching the ins and outs of each device.
  • Increased screen time: There is no shortage of screen time already for children which is certainly not one of the advantages of technology in early childhood education. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggests the following guidelines for screen time as it pertains to children:

○ Before 18 months, screen time should be limited to video chatting with an adult, e.g. a parent or caregiver who is traveling.

○ Between 18 and 24 months screen time should be limited to educational programming (with an adult present).

○ For children 2-5, non-educational screen time should be limited to about one hour per weekday and three hours on Saturday and Sunday.

With these guidelines, teachers must be cognizant of how much of the assistive technology in early childhood education is being used per day.

  • Social interactions with other children: Technology can be quite isolating for youth (and adults) so it’s important there’s always a balance. Creating group projects in the classroom, without technology, where children must work together and interact is an important skill for them to learn at a young age. Technology can sometimes fill a void of interacting with other people, so it’s important to instill these “people” skills in your classroom.

How can teachers create balance between using technology and not using it in the classroom? 

There are a number of ways teachers can balance using assistive technology in early childhood education and providing instruction without technology. Firstly, after using technology in the classroom for a specific lesson, teachers can offer the students a short recess. In our blog, “How Does Recess Help Students?,” we discuss the importance of this technology-free time where youngsters have the opportunity to blow off steam, develop social skills and keep active, which is crucial in a society that is becoming increasingly sedentary.

Teachers can also make sure they are precise with how much screen time they’re incorporating into their lesson plans, making sure they are aligned with the recommendations from the The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. For instance, they can ensure they don’t have back to back activities that include screens.

Stay informed

Still interested in more insights on technology in early childhood education? Staying in-the-know about the latest disadvantages and advantages of technology in early childhood education is a great way to position you as a trusted educator for families and other staff.

CCEI offers a number of courses on technology in the classroom, including The Child’s Digital Universe: Technology and Digital Media in Early Childhood. This course presents the latest research and recommendations regarding children’s use of technology and digital media and the ways in which digital devices are reshaping early childhood education. CCEI also offers Technology and Social Media Policy in the Early Care and Education Environment, which examines the impact of digital technologies, the Internet and social media on the early care and education environment and offers recommended strategies and best practices for using various technological tools.

Click here to learn more about these courses, as well as CCEI’s entire catalog of offerings.

How Does Recess Help Students?

Deemed unnecessary and a waste of time in some school districts, recess remains vital for the full cognitive and physical development of young children, a notion backed up by an avalanche of research.

Why, then, is school recess in American schools shrinking and at increasing risk of becoming a relic of the past?

Plainly stated, some powers that be are eliminating and reducing recess in favor of more academic time. In other words, there’s a push to maximize every minute spent on in-classroom instruction as curriculum requirements ramp up the pressure to raise standardized test scores – and recess becomes the casualty in this campaign.

How does recess help students?

First, let’s all get on the same page and establish what recess is, and not conflate it with PE (physical education).

What exactly is recess?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recess is “A regularly scheduled period within the school day for physical activity and play that is monitored by trained staff or volunteers.  Recess is a period of time when students are encouraged to be physically active and engaged with their peers in activities of their choice, at all grade levels, kindergarten through 12th grade.”

Who invented school recess?

 While it may be impossible to determine who invented school recess definitively, English schoolmaster John Brinsley is largely credited with creating the break period for schoolchildren in the 17th century.

Regardless of who invented school recess, it has a long tradition in American schools where kids get a break from classroom instruction and get a chance to go outside and simply play (generally unstructured) and socialize.

The time spent in recess can serve as some of the most formative – learning to share, working with others, and finding healthy ways to relieve stress (like getting outside) are just a few important building blocks that can positively serve people throughout the rest of their lives.

How long should recess be?

 While the answers differ on the question of how long should recess be, both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that recess should be a minimum of 20 minutes per school day in order for children to feel the lasting effects.

Others, such as occupational therapist and author Angela Hanscom, argue that schools are shortchanging young students when it comes to how long should recess be. She suggests that recess should last at least an hour so that children can dive deeper into their activities that can’t be wholly accomplished in a shorter time frame and cannot be achieved within the walls of the classroom.

What are the advantages of recess for young children in school that we’ve alluded to so far?

There are various benefits for your young learners who regularly engage in recess. First and foremost, studies have shown that kids who get to take breaks from their in-classroom instruction actually perform better academically in the long run.

Recess provides youngsters the opportunity to blow off steam, develop social skills and help keep them active, which is increasingly crucial in a society that is becoming increasingly sedentary.

How does recess help students in their emotional development?

When play is unstructured and not governed by an adult, then children must solve and negotiate problems or obstacles that arise on their own. When it is more structured, kids will have a set of agreed-upon rules to go by, and this teaches them how to utilize conflict resolution skills by referring to the rules and quickly moving on past the conflict and getting back to playing.

Both scenarios are win-win in terms of behavioral development and will be immensely helpful to these youngsters in the long run.

How does recess help students academically?

 Proponents of recess say that young students are more focused and are better listeners after they’ve had time to get rid of their pent-up energy during recess.

According to the CDC, the physical activity typically involved in recess improves their attention, memory, and concentration. This also helps them stay on task in the classroom, which can be a struggle for young students.

Exactly how does recess help students focus on school work?

From a purely physiological standpoint, the typical child’s movement during recess gets their blood flowing, which sends increased amounts of oxygen to the brain. This, in turn, increases neural connectivity and promotes nerve cell growth which can increase memory capacity and improve attention span.

So, in short, recess can help children focus better in the classroom. Before you turn your kiddos loose for recess, you will want to make sure your outdoor area is safe. That’s why CCEI offers Outdoor Safety in the Early Childhood Setting. This one-hour beginner-level course covers the various components of playground safety and common outdoor injuries and ways to prevent them.

To learn more about this course as well as our entire catalog of 150+ offerings, visit CCEI Online today!

 

Useful Tips for New Teachers

Did you know teaching is one of the most popular occupations in the U.S., with about 310,000 teachers entering the profession annually?

It’s hard to believe that everyone currently thriving as a teacher was once in your shoes — unsure of what to expect or how to navigate this challenging job. But, becoming an early childhood education professional doesn’t happen overnight (as much as we’d like it to).

As a new teacher, you might wonder where to begin. The good news is we’re here to help – no one knows how to prepare you for this journey better than us.

At ChildCare Education Institute, we have years of experience assisting educators like you by providing professional development training to facilitate your growth and help your students excel.

Here are seven useful tips for new teachers to ease the transition and set you up for success.

Ask questions

The first item on our tips for new teachers guide is to seek answers from your seasoned colleagues. It isn’t common knowledge to know the best places to find craft supplies or the most useful approach for teaching a numbers lesson. Even though you’re in a new environment, that doesn’t mean you can’t lean on fellow teachers to steer you in the right direction.

We recommend putting together a list of questions and sharing them all at once when you have time. Using a notepad or a digital list in your notes app, write things that come to mind during the day to ensure you get answers to all your questions. This is one of our tips for new elementary teachers because it allows you to be more informed and considerate of the teacher’s time.

Work smart

Trying to do everything all at once is the quickest way to get teacher burnout – and first-year teachers are more likely to experience it than other educators.

First, pace yourself, so you’re less likely to make mistakes. And, even if you do, give yourself grace. One of our top tips for new teachers is to do the best you can because nothing will ever be perfect – but it will always be enough for your students.

It can also be beneficial to use pre-made materials so you can focus on being efficient. We suggest using any that are available online, specifically on a site that regularly provides resources for educators, such as Teachers Pay Teachers. Additionally, there are a number of early childhood education influencers who have free resources you can download. Our top picks are Preschool Powol Packets and The Pre-K Day!

Another useful idea to help you be productive during the day is working together with other staff and students. One of our favorite tips for new elementary teachers is to have your students get involved. Assign reasonable tasks to them and walk through how to do each one. For example, explain where to put toys or coloring books away once they’re finished. Or, show them where to find paper towels to wipe their desks before they leave for the day. These exercises are great for teaching them about responsibility and accountability.

Learning classroom management tips for new teachers, like best practices for handling tasks, will help you plan your day to achieve work-life balance. Additionally, it will allow you to focus on what matters most — your students.

Practice self-care 

As you figure out how to balance life as an educator, you’ll realize some days can be mentally and emotionally draining. You’re constantly putting students’ needs first, which is why another one of our tips for new elementary teachers is prioritizing your mental health.

One easy and effective self-care idea is disconnecting. Take a break from your phone, computer, and TV and substitute those activities with reading, cooking, or being outdoors. “Unplugging” will relax your mind, so it’s recharged by the time you return to work the next day.

Another way to practice self-care is by resting your body. Oftentimes educators don’t hit the pause button because they feel there’s always more work to be done. As a result of keeping the ball rolling, teacher burnout can affect and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Make an effort to include rest in your schedule to drive productivity. Your body will thank you, and you’ll feel refreshed.

No matter how you spend your “me” time, remember that self-care for teachers is important to be the best version of yourself for your students.

Stay organized

It will feel impossible to do your job with everything out of place. That’s another reason why knowing the best classroom management tips for new teachers can help you stay ahead of the game to take on the day.

One way to avoid feeling overwhelmed is by tracking supplies in the classroom. Create an inventory list with each item and how much of it you have currently. We recommend keeping a running record of everything so your list is constantly updated. When you see you’re almost out of an item, be proactive and get more of what you need.

Another best practice for classroom management tips for new teachers is to develop lessons in advance, so you’re not scrambling to figure out student activities at the last minute. Once you put plans in place, create a list of materials you’ll need and ensure they’re on hand and ready for the activities. Additionally, it can help to have an evergreen backup lesson plan in case something happens, like leaving your classroom to another teacher at the last minute.

Last, schedule important dates in your calendar. This should be on your list of classroom management tips for new teachers because you’ll have all your upcoming appointments in one place. This will help you keep track of important events such as parent-teacher conferences and staff meetings.

Be flexible

Every early childhood educator knows it’s rare that things go perfectly according to plan. Disruptions will likely occur, and a key skill is learning how to make adjustments. That’s why one of our useful tips for new elementary teachers is flexibility.

Be prepared to move away from regularly scheduled activities to give your students what’s best for them at the moment. It’s not uncommon for things to come up during the school day that can cause delays (which we all know can be frustrating). Create a list of backup activities you can turn to if things go off schedule.

Build relationships

The foundation for impactful classroom experiences will always be the ability to connect with your students. One of the most essential tips for new teachers is to get to know your kiddos as much as possible to create meaningful relationships with them. When you consistently interact with your little learners, you’ll have fewer behavior-related issues and more engaged students.

Make lessons memorable for your students by adding entertaining and fascinating elements. For example, you can incorporate their favorite characters into science activities or read a book they really enjoy. Whatever you do, always be enthusiastic and upbeat, so your students feel comfortable sharing their interests with you.

The relationships you build with parents matter just as much as your students. They will feel more confident in your ability to teach their kids if you demonstrate a positive attitude and effectively communicate. Parents might feel apprehensive about leaving their children with a teacher who doesn’t keep them in the loop or listen to their needs. These reasons alone are why we’ve included this in our tips for new teachers guide.

We recommend scheduling monthly conferences with parents, so they are up to date on their child’s progress. It also helps to save each student’s work in their individual portfolios, so you have something to speak to during meetings. Not only will it display their child’s successes, but it will also help you earn the parents’ trust since you’re aware of their strengths and areas for improvement.

Stay informed

Looking for more tips for new teachers? Staying in the know about the latest techniques and methods is a great way to position you as a trusted educator for families and other staff.

ChildCare Education Institute is a helpful resource for new teachers who want to learn best practices in the classroom.

We offer courses such as How Children Learn, Classroom Management, and Elements of Professionalism in Early Childhood Education.

Learn more about these courses and our entire catalog of offerings at CCEI Online today!

 

Teaching Preschoolers About Money

Even if a budding Richie Rich or Trixie Tang-in-training happens to be in your classroom, it’s never too early to start putting together your game plan for teaching preschoolers about money, how to count it, and how to identify various coins and bills. Our consumer-driven society entices children to spend money (or beg their parents to spend money on their behalf), but as a preschool teacher you can play an important role in educating your little scholars about the value of saving and managing money.

Luckily, teaching preschoolers about money and building financial literacy doesn’t have to be exhausting for students or teachers. It can be a piggy bank chock full of fun.

There are various ways to reach your captive audience with entertaining and lively preschool money crafts projects, along with other money activities for preschoolers.

It’s no secret that positive engagement in preschool classrooms is key to developmental gains. Studies show that, according to Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, “children who are highly involved in classroom activities benefit in two key ways: first, they have more opportunities for deepening their learning, and second, they develop stronger self-regulation and are less likely to engage in off-task or disruptive behaviors.”

How can you engage your classroom with relevant and age-appropriate content when teaching preschoolers about money?

Here are three can’t-miss money activities for preschoolers, followed by engaging preschool money crafts and a curated list of other money-related online resources that will teach young learners not only how to count money, but how to make their own (sort of). Relax, there’s no counterfeiting involved.

 

MONEY ACTIVITIES FOR PRESCHOOLERS

 Marmoset’s Money Maker

Who doesn’t want to run their own mint and crank out a stash of legal tender? This digital game from The Money Mammals allows kids to design and print their own money, while also learning fun money facts along the way. They can choose the denomination to design – from $1 all the way to $100,000 – and they choose a portrait of one of The Money Mammals to go in the featured slot where U.S. presidents go on our real currency. Instead of Lincoln or Franklin, this play money sports the likenesses of Joe the Monkey or Clara J. Camel, or their other furry pals. If your tycoon tykes want pink money, well, this online platform allows it, with eight colors to choose from. Preschoolers can also select the highlighted Money Fun Facts embedded in the game, to find out interesting info such as the amount of time a $20 bill usually lasts in circulation. The platform incorporates an easy print – or save as PDF – function as well at the culmination of each design.

Coin Recognition Game

Before your little ones get too mesmerized by the big bills, show them how to count with coins using this Toddler At Play recognition game. As you begin teaching preschoolers about money, it’s important to start with smaller amounts. This activity is perfect for your classroom because it’s easy to set up and will keep your kiddos engaged. Start by gathering pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Then, trace them onto white cardstock paper using different colored markers for each one. Last, write their value in the middle. As your preschoolers learn to match the correct coins, make sure to explain the differences between them, such as their appearance, size and weight. Not only will your students start to understand each coin and their values, but they will also learn cognitive and fine motor skills.

Play-Doh Inscriptions

Another one of the clever money activities for preschoolers out there, this Chasing Those Moments Play-Doh exercise combines coins and a beloved soft modeling clay compound to help students understand the concept of money. We recommend getting oversized plastic coins for this activity. Start by showing your kiddos how to roll the Play-Doh into a ball and flatten it. After that, encourage your students to press each penny, nickel, dime and quarter into the clay to make an imprint of the coin. Your little ones will be amazed at the impressions they’ve made while learning about counting change in the process.

 

PRESCHOOL MONEY CRAFTS

Build a Piggy Bank

Nothing helps a young mind absorb the concept of money values quite like having a place to store one’s cash away from the grubby hands of siblings and classmates. That’s where a classic piggy bank can come in. Despite the digital revolution and other societal disruptions, this classic piece of childhood endures. Check out this blog which offers three low cost options for crafting piggy banks from common household items, such as empty plastic water bottles, Mason jars, and papier-mache. And here’s a video tutorial for making an easy DIY piggy bank. Kidsactiviesblog.com suggests Fun DIY piggy banks that encourage savings, from the duct tape piggy bank to a Pringles potato chip can piggy bank. This craft project will surely kindle the creativity in all of your tiny bankers.

Customize Play Credit Cards

We suggested a digital platform for designing and printing faux money earlier, but there’s also another aspect of the real life money game that children can learn about: credit and debit cards. They’ve surely seen their parents whip them out and pay for everything from groceries to movie tickets as we move more and more toward a cashless society.  But money is money, whether it’s paper or plastic, and customizing and printing just-for-play bank and credit cards is our next preschool money crafts recommendation that seems totally in-the-now.Here are some humorous options with parody cards such as Animal Express instead of American Express, and Costlo instead of Costco. Blogger thecrazycraftlady.com details how to produce free customizable and printable play credit cards for your class in this video. Note: You will need access to your school’s laminating machine and high quality printer for a more authentic experience. After creating the cards, teaching your preschoolers about how real credit and debit cards work will help them build a strong foundation for spending and budgeting.

 

Coin Cleaning Experiment

This one is not technically a craft, but it’s nevertheless hands-on and any child fascinated with coins will love it. The objective is to find out and report what common household ingredients will take away the grime and deposits built up on old or well-worn coins. As the teacher, you can ad lib the set up of this experiment to suit your students, or follow the detailed plan in the linked activity. Will your aspiring scientists find which solutions work the best? Which coins get cleaner – pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters? Besides the fun of tracking the cleaning process, this project will help students reinforce their coin recognition skills.

 

MORE ONLINE RESOURCES

Here are some more financial literacy tools and money activities for preschoolers that may aid when you are tasked with teaching preschoolers about money.

Interested in exploring more about teaching various math concepts to your students? Our online courses can help! To learn more about our math and skills courses, as well as our entire catalog of 150+ topics, visit CCEI Online today!