Bright, open spaces and fun arts and crafts are forms of indirect guidance, a planning method that influences a child’s behavior using physical space and activities. It is often used in early learning centers to help guide children and encourage learning while ensuring safety.
Children are heavily influenced by their environment, and many indirect guidance methods involve creating a classroom space and environment, and schedule that is most effective for a child’s learning and emotional development. Rooms set up in a well-organized way, with child-sized furniture and age-appropriate activities, go a long way in helping to guide children’s behavior.
There are four main areas of indirect guidance used by early learning teachers. They are:
1. Physical Space
A thoughtfully planned learning environment helps children know what is expected of them and encourage positive behaviors.
- Learning Zones: A space with separate learning zones helps children find an activity and focus on that activity without getting distracted by other toys or activities. Make the zones large enough for a few children to play together. Smaller zones will also encourage the children to try different activities.
- Child Sized Furniture: Furniture appropriate for a child is safer and encourages them to participate in activities.
- Open Space: A wide-open space can be an invitation for children to run. While this is appropriate in a gymnasium, it could be dangerous in a classroom.
- Smaller Spaces: These can be used to encourage smaller group play. An area with a few pillows or books will encourage one or two children to sit down and read together.
2. Schedule and Activities
A consistent daily schedule helps children know what to expect and can help them transition between activities. A variety of interesting and meaningful activities during the day will also keep children engaged and make them less likely to exhibit challenging behaviors. Self-selecting activities mean the children will find activities they are interested in, making them less likely to misbehave.
Plan activities that are fun and challenging to engage them and are appropriate for child development. Activities that are too easy for older children will leave them bored, and activities that are too difficult for younger children will also lead to misbehavior. Have supplies ready to go so there isn’t a long waiting time, and make sure to have an adequate number of toys or activities for the number of children so that they don’t have to share.
3. Establish Classroom Rules and Expectations
It helps teach children appropriate behavior in favorable terms that describe what we want the children to do, rather than what we don’t want them to do. Something like “We walk in the classroom,” instead of “no running,” helps the children hear what we want them to do.
Establish classroom rules and be consistent. Older children can also help remind the younger ones of the rules. This allows them to take ownership of the rules and helps them to manage their social behavior.
Visual reminders like labels with pictures can also help children remember classroom rules or what is expected of them. A picture series posted on the wall showing how to get dressed to go outside and play shows children how to learn skills independently to get themselves ready. Signs that indicate what toys go in each bin can help children remember to clean up after themselves.
4. Responding to Children’s Positive Behavior
Reinforcing positive behavior is one of the most effective ways of using indirect guidance to help children develop appropriate behavior patterns. Positive reinforcement and positive guidance helps children learn self-esteem and focuses on the process of learning, not the mistakes that were made. This can help motivate children to take risks and learn from mistakes rather than feeling bad about themselves.
Indirect guidance is a very effective guidance technique used by early learning centers to help children learn, develop self-esteem and stay safe. At Vivvi, we are proud to create a positive learning environment for children to learn, grow and develop. Contact us today for a tour of our facilities.