Car Time

The longer I’m a parent, the more I realize how precious time in the car with my children can be!  We are in the car a lot and I used to dread the rides when my children were little because they would mostly cry or fight.  I wanted to give them media devices or install TV screens in my car so I could just have some peace and quiet!!!  Then I decided there were better options.  I started with Books on CD.  My children were quite young when I played them the reading of “The Polar Express” for the first time. I will NEVER forget how quiet and mesmerized they were by a deep voice reading a book to them in the car.  They were a captive audience because they were buckled in and there was nowhere else they could go, but it kept them quiet, entertained and was teaching them all at the same time. They couldn’t do the really long chapter books at first, so we did some fun Disney stories, Jumanji, and other short ones we could check out from the library.  We would have the cutest little conversations after the book was finished.  As they’ve grown a little older we’ve transitioned into listening to chapter books and it has surprised me how well they listened and retained.  We have listened to:  “Old Yeller”, “Little House, Big Woods”, “Where the Red Fern Grows”, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, Prince Caspian”, and several other great classics including the Old Testament (for children).  If we come to a part in the book they might not understand I pause the reading and explain and they can ask me question.  We have had so many amazing discussions in the car because one question would always lead to another. Often times I don’t even turn the book back on because we get so caught up talking. I find out so much about my children and their curiosities during these conversations in the car. I talk to them about so many things, ask them questions and they can talk to ME about anything.

Now that some of my children are older and can read on their own I love to have library books in the car next to them so they can read to themselves instead of just listening.  Some of my friends have kids who get carsick easily and can’t read in the car so that’s where the CD’s would come in handy. Did you know the public library carries a book/CD combo that enables the kids to be able to listen and/or follow along in the book?

I have learned that the car is also a great time to introduce good and uplifting music to my children. Everybody has their favorite kinds of music however I try to feed my children a variety of all kinds of music. I love playing CDs from musicals or great Broadway shows and explaining the basic story to my children. They love hearing the stories behind each song.  It’s fun to see what type of music each child prefers. I let them each choose their favorite track on the particular CD we are listening to and even my little 4 year-old has a definite preference.

Sometimes at home, there is too much going on to have a good long conversation with my children. Our car rides have become our uninterrupted conversation time. My husband and I don’t even bring a video player on long road trips anymore and my kids don’t expect it because they know we will either read, talk or listen to great music.  I never thought that could be possible!!

Our time in the car is so precious!  Listening to good books and music has completely changed the way we fell about out time in the car.

Thanks to my daugther-in-law Karlie for contributing this post!

6 by 4

Jack be nimble,

Jack be quick.

Jack jumped over the candlestick.

He jumped so high he touched the sky,

And didn’t come back till the fourth of July.

There was an old woman….

Mary, Mary quite contrary…

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater…

How many nursery rhymes do you know?

In my job I work with children 3, 4 and 5 years old and part of my work involves literacy. This week I was working at a library and saw this poster on the wall:

6 by 4

I have always liked nursery rhymes but I never considered them to be so educationally beneficial. So I did a little research and found that some benefits of teaching children nursery rhymes are:

  • Builds vocabulary
  • Language development
  • Creates phonemic awareness
  • Teaches memorization skills
  • Teaches how language works
  • Teaches rhythm and patterns of language
  • Teaches kids how to memorize

So to help your child be ahead teach them nursery rhymes, read books that are written in rhyme, or sing nursery rhyme songs with them. As they get older do activities that teach rhyming skills.

Nursery rhymes can be fun AND have educational value.

This is the end from the parent-writing partner of our team, the teacher partner, Lindsey adds:

I use “eenie, meenie, mynie, moe, catch a tiger by the toe…” with my 2nd grade students. Every time I do it they are SO INTRIGUED! Some of them have tried to learn it and it’s so cute to hear them say.

Grades for a new student

Judy sent us a question a few days ago.  She asked, “Can you give a child a grade if they have only been your class for two weeks?”

That’s a great question!  When a new child comes into your class it can take a while to really get to know them. It certainly takes time to understand their learning style, personality and abilities.  Two weeks isn’t long enough to learn all of that, but it is enough time to start assessing what they know.

When I was teaching in the United States my school district required us to produce a report card if the student had been there more that 13 days.  So if the student had been in my class 2 calendar weeks, but only 10 school days I didn’t have to complete a report card.  With that being said, here are a few of my thoughts:

I would always give my standard reading and phonics assessments right away (within the first 2-3 days of receiving a new student.)  I would test their phonics (with a basic phonics screener), sight word knowledge, and fluency.  That would give me a good basic reading score.  Will it be as thorough and detailed as the grade given to a student who has been in your class all year?  Certainly not!  Is it a good, accurate starting point? Yes!

Math.  I would go back and give the end of the quarter assessment from the last quarter to get a basic idea of what they could do.  So if they came in the middle of the second quarter I would give them the quarter one assessment.  I would also give a timed math facts test to see how fluent they were with their math facts.  Once again it’s not ideal and it’s not going to give a perfect representation of their knowledge, but it’s a good start.

Writing.  If you are working on a writing piece in class those two weeks have them complete the assignment and give a score based on the one assignment.  If not, dictate a few sentences and have them write them down.  Then give them a simple assignment that they can complete and grade that.  It could be as simple as having them write about their family.  (Then you get a writing sample and get to know them a little bit.  Win-win!)

Social studies and science.  As far as these topics were concerned I would give a grade based on the assignments completed during those first two weeks.  If we didn’t complete anything in those 14 days I wouldn’t give them a grade for those subjects.

I think the bottom line is yes, you can give a grade to a student who has been in your class two weeks.  Just remember that it isn’t as in depth and as thorough as your grades for the rest of your students.  With those extra assessments it will feel a little hectic for you and the new student.  Just remember to encourage the student to do their best and you do the same!  I hope that’s helpful!

Any other teachers out there that have any input?  What have you done when you get a brand new student and have to generate a grade for the student?

How Many Way Are There to Read a Book?

In my current job I perform hearing tests on a children 2 ½ to 6 years old. Most of them do not know how to read yet. After I’ve completed the test they need to sit and wait for several minutes while I record and document the results. I have a few books that I offer to the child to look at while they wait (I’m amazed that the Scooby Doo book is a favorite of 95% of the children I screen! I watched that cartoon almost 50 years ago and it’s still around and popular today- amazing). It’s really interesting to me to see how differently the children look at the books.

There are the ones who flip through through all three books in 12 seconds then say, “I’m done”.

There are the kids who sit quietly and look at each page carefully.

Some kids turn down the books because, they say, “I don’t know how to read yet”.

Others look at the pictures and make up elaborated stories (pretending they are reading) while they look at the pictures, not intimidated by the fact that someone is listening to what they are saying.

And there is the group who look at each page and ask lots of questions about what’s is happening in every picture (this group is difficult for me because I have to keep saying, “I need to write so I can’t talk to you while you look at the book”).

These observations have become so interesting to me and caused me to wonder, “Why do children view and use books so differently”?

The group of kids who have difficulty separating from their parent will have their mom or dad come into the testing room with them. While they wait for the results I hear how their parent interacts with their child about the books. I’ve found there is such a big difference in the ways the parents talk with their child about the books while they wait. I’ve come to think that the way a child perceives books is, in a large part, how they have learned from their parent.

Some parents just hand the books to the kids and tell them to look at them.

Other parents lift their child onto their lap and read every word that is on the page to them.

Other parents have the child look through the book and they ask them questions that have to do with the illustrations on the pages.

Now this may all seem like small stuff to you. However, as I’ve seen hundreds of children of similar age and such a wide variety of behaviors I’ve realized that there is a vast difference in a pre-school age child’s habits and the abilities in the area of reading readiness. Another test we administer is a reading readiness screening which evaluates a child’s level of knowledge in the area of reading. Things that may seem overly simple to an adult are important stepping-stones to a child becoming a successful future reader. Things such as:

We read from left to right

Recognizing the front from back of a book

Letter recognition and sounds

Distinguishing between letters and numbers

How to rhyme

How to segment words (such as “mmm” and “oon” together say “moon”)

Understanding that the picture in a book and the words go together

Recognizing that words are separated by spaces

All these are important building blocks to reading and can easily be taught to a young child even by a novice parent.

Now you may be asking yourself what you could do to help your child prepare to be a great reader. There are lots of ways to teach your young child about books and reading to prepare them to read down the road.

Read to your child every day.

Let your children see you read.

Make reading fun or make it a reward

Talk about what’s happening in a book as you look at it together

Go to the library regularly

As you read to your child:

  • Ask questions about what they see in the book,
  • Ask what they think might happens next
  • Ask what they would do if the same thing happened to them.

Reading is a foundational skill for children to learn and a key to future success. It is the basis of so many other skills such math word problems, being able to understand written instructions or directions and reading signs and maps.

A few small changes now can make a huge difference in your child’s reading success. Help open a whole new world to your kids by setting them up to be strong, successful readers and learners.

Don’t use “baby talk”

Don’t Use Baby Talk

Recently in a waiting room I over heard a mother say to her young child, “I like how you made a responsible choice”.

Contrast that with a film I watched in my Early Interventions class at ASU. The scenarios were from a video camera that had been hidden in a doctor’s office waiting room, filming interactions with patients and their children while they waited for their appointments. The one that stuck in my mind was a young mother with her 2-year-old daughter. The child had access to some toys and books that were in the waiting room. During the observation the child would bring the mother toys to show her, or books to look at and several times needed help getting along with another child. The mom used almost no verbal language to communicate with the child. She would shake her head no, point for the child to put something back, or stand up and physically move the child or a toy. She referred to the child as “Mamma”, rather than her real first name and that was about the only word she used during the time they spent in the waiting room.

What a stark contrast in the words used by these two mothers.

Talk to your young children often.

By age two the average child should be using about 25 words and know close to 300 words, says Andrew N. Meltzoff, Ph.D., coauthor of The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn (William Morrow, 1999). However don’t panic if your child’s vocabulary is a little different, remember every child develops at a different rate (he suggests that if your child does not use 25 words by age 3, consult your pediatrician). And where do they learn those words? From YOU and the people they are around all day. Because a child cannot speak it can be tempting to speak in partial sentences or in “baby talk” thinking they will understand it better. However, just because they have not yet learned to verbalize does not mean they can’t understand what’s being said.

Talk to your young children often.

A few weeks ago my grandson wanted to take a toy into the bathtub that was powered by batteries. My son said he explained to his 5-year-old son about mechanical toys (ones that wind up or are driven by rubber bands), electrical (ones that take batteries) and electrical/mechanical (the combination of both). It was surprising to me that he would explain such a complicated idea to a child so young so and I asked if the 5-year old had understood. My son said he got the idea—he didn’t understand it all perfectly but he understood the concept. He also said the next time he was helping his son in the bathtub the young boy brought it up to him again and he could repeat the information.

Talk to your young children often.

            My daughter in law talks to her 10-month-old daughter as they are grocery shopping. She narrates the trip, talks about what they are seeing, what they are buying, etc. My son says people often look at her like, “Lady, who are you talking to?” I guess they don’t know that that baby is in English 101—learning her first language. For a child every minute they are awake they are in the classroom, so to speak. The more you speak to your child the more language they can learn.

            So, you get the idea? Yes, talk to your young children often, even if you don’t think they are old enough to understand. Remember they can understand more words than they can say and with every word you speak you are helping to increasing their vocabulary and understanding.

What’s the secret?

Last weekend I went to the lantern festival in Chiang Mai Thailand.  It was easily one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced!


We took the train up to Chiang Mai and caught a truck/taxi to our hotel.  There were a few other people in the back of the truck with us and my husband and I started chatting with a man named Ben.  We learned that he is a teacher in Vietnam and was there for the same festival we were.  After talking about the festival for a while the conversation turned to teaching.  He learned that I’ve been teaching for about 6 years.  He’s been teaching for 2 months and was feeling a bit overwhelmed in a few areas especially classroom management.  He asked, “So…How do you keep your class under control?”  That’s a question almost every teacher has wondered at one point.  It’s the foundation for a positive learning and teaching experience.  I took a whole class at ASU on the subject.  I have spent 6 years fine tuning my personal style.  Ben wanted to know how to keep his class under control, but our ride was about to wrap up.  I quickly thought about what I could tell him in the last 3 minutes of our shared ride.  I sifted through everything I could have said and I came up with the following answer:

“You have got to be clear with what you expect, set a clear consequence, and be consistent.  You have got to help them learn that you mean what you say by following up every.single.time.  Decide what the consequence will be if they don’t follow directions and make sure that you never let it slide. “

He listened intently then asked, “Even with kids as little as 5 and 6?”

Especially with kids that little!”

He processed that and asked a few more questions, but that was the bulk of our conversation.  I’ve thought back on that conversation, wondering if I should have given him a different answer.  You know what?  If I could redo that conversation with Ben I would tell him the same thing.

As I mentioned, I spend a semester studying classroom management.  There are loads of other useful and helpful things one can do.  Dozens upon dozens of different tools and tricks.  Ben and I could have easily talked for hours about various strategies to implement, but when it comes down to it I told himthe most essential part.  This situation reminded me how important it is to: set an expectation, outline a consequence and follow through consistently.  There you have it.  Regardless of your students’ age, nationality, language, school, or country the same principles apply!


Set the Expectation and Consequence

We made sidewalk chalk in my class today!  Our reading book occasionally has an ‘art link’ or ‘science link’.  It’s fun for us to do and teaches them practical uses for reading directions and instructional text.

The chalk recipe required us to grind up eggshells in a mortar and pestle.  When I asked who wanted to help grind the shells, every hand in the room shot into the air!  I decided to let everyone help.  I knew that if I told then to grind it a little bit and pass it to their neighbors, havoc would follow—some kids would take way too long.  The other kids would be yelling at them to hurry and pass it.  Kids would be unintentionally unkind as they pushed to get their turn and feelings would get hurt.  The class would get crazy loud (I’m okay with productive loud in my class, just not crazy loud).  Knowing how poorly the situation could turn out I set some quick expectations and a clear consequence.  

“Okay class!  Looks like everyone wants to help.   In order for everyone to get a chance, everyone can smash 10 times.  If it needs more you can all have a second turn.  If you choose to smash more than 10 times you won’t get to help with any of the next steps. Got it? Okay!”

They knew that they got to smash the eggshells 10 times and they knew that if they exceeded that number they couldn’t help anymore.  And you know what? It went great!  The kids counted to ten out loud for each other and nobody went over 10!  I didn’t have anyone yelling at a neighbor to hurry up and pass it.  I didn’t have anyone complaining that so-and-so got longer that everyone.

Setting the expectation and consequence took about 20 seconds and it made the next 5 minutes go smoothly.

As you become more consistent with setting expectations and following through with consequences you will find that your kids will listen the first time you ask something.  They will also know just what is expected and trust what you say is going to happen. and they will trust you more.  In my book that’s a win win!

Where Do Babies Come From?


Spencer 5:14

When I was 5 or 6 years old and I found a book in my mom’s room about Motherhood and pregnancy.  I remember it had a light blue hardback cover with the face of a smiling woman on front. It would have been published in the 1950’s and it showed by the pre-MRI black and white line drawings of a women’s body with all it’s parts labeled. It showed a cross section of a pregnant women and the baby inside her at all different stages of gestation. I opened the book and must have sensed it was something very private because I remember taking the book and hiding under the covers of my moms bed, out of site, to look at all the pictures. After I’d been looking for who knows how long my mom pulled back the blanket and found me. I thought I would be in trouble looking at the book. But my wise mother sat down beside me and asked what I was doing (although I’m sure she already knew). She explained to me that if I was looking at the book as something nasty or to laugh at that that was wrong, but if I wanted to know about the body and about how babies grow that I could look at it all I wanted to learn about the miracle of birth.

Fast-forward almost 50 years – Recently I went to the library and checked out all the children’s books I could find on conception and birth. My plan was to make a reading list of books parents could read to their children to help explain the human reproductive process.  I took the books with me to our cabin and my grandchildren happened to be there. So in the afternoon I got permission from my son and daughter-in-law to read the books to their children.  My initial thought was how fortunate I was to have a practice audience, but I was surprised the different feelings I had as I read. I was sitting on the porch on the bench swing in a cool breezy afternoon with two little boys I loved dearly snuggled close when I opened the first book. The first few pages were comfortable to read and we were all chatting about the pictures and enjoying it. As we got further into the book the pages started showing male and female body part and labeling them with their correct name. I started to get a little uncomfortable. This was sensitive ground and I began to remember why it was difficult for to talk to our kids about conception, birth and all the other things that come along with that topic.  I also found it interesting how differently the 4 ½ year old responded to the information compared to the 6½  year old. The older one got real quiet while the younger one pointed out pictures on the page that were totally unrelated to the subject at hand, like the cute cat that appeared on each page. I learned and was reminded of several things by this experience.

Parents should start young and talk often about the facts of life with their children. Berkendamp and Atkins, authors of, Talking to your Kids About Sex” suggest thatstarting the conversation about sex with your kids when they are young helps set the stage for open and honest communication throughout their lives- especially at those time when it will matter most”.

Meg Hickling in Speaking of Sex writes, “For children, silence on the part of the parents becomes a profound message to the child that this is a taboo subject. ‘My family does not talk about this, it must be bad, and I’ll be in big trouble if I mention ‘it’ or ask about ‘it’”.  Children need to be shown that talking about sex is private but not secret.

Only tell them what they are ready for. One day a young boy came home from school and asked his mom, “Where did I come from”? His mom thought, “Oh no, the time has come…” and she proceeded to give him a detailed lesson on the facts of life. After the mom finished her explanation the wide-eyed boy was silent for a moment and then answered, “Wow, Johnny just said he was from Cleveland”.

To avoid giving more information than your child is ready for, paraphrase the question they ask before you answer. This helps make sure you understand what your child wants to know.

When your child comes to you with a question about sex immediately say, “I’m so glad you came to me to ask that”.  This not only puts your child at ease because they see you are not mad at them for asking the question, it also give you a few seconds to calm down and decide how to answer. Also, it’s okay to say, “I need time to think about the best way to answer this, I promise we’ll talk about it after dinner tonight” then make sure you do.

Create a comfortable setting. A counselor friend of mine once told me that when he had a child client with tough things that needed to be talked about he’d take them to the park to feed the ducks. In his experience, conversation flowed easier while gazing at the lake than if they were sitting across from each other trying to make (or not make) eye contact.  I also found it helpful to talk about these types of things while lying next to my child, at bedtime, with only the night light on. I even once had a discussion with a child about birth control while we rode bikes on the boardwalk next to the ocean.

Talking to children about this subject will be very different depending on the age of the child. Teaching children about where babies come from is more that just teaching about sex. Below is a very abbreviated list of what to talk to children about at different ages.

Toddlers –This age is curious about their bodies and how they work. This is the stage for teaching about gender, functions of the body, parts of the body and their correct names.

Preschoolers- At this age boys and girls will notice boys and girls bodies are different from each other. Teach about appropriate/inappropriate touch, and that we only talk about these personal things in private (not blurted out in the grocery store isle).

Six to nine year olds- Kids at this age are starting to think more concretely and want some strait answers. They are starting to think things like, “How did that baby get in mom” and “how does the baby fit in mom’s tummy with all the food she eats”? If these type questions leave you speechless, there are books that can help parents know good answers to questions kids ask (see our reading list below).  They might also tell you that the whole idea is gross (remember this is the age when they see people kissing on the lips and say, “Yuuuuck”).  They also might say they will never do THAT! To which you can respond, “That’s good you don’t want to right now, because you’re too young” or “When you grow up you don’t have to if you don’t want but when you’re older it might seem like a good idea to you”.

Pre-teens and teens- At this age kids will probably not want you to talk to them at all about the topic. I think a few kids will be brave enough to ask a parent a question, but if there has not been ANY conversation between parent and child before this point, it could be an awkward to time to begin teaching about the subject.  This does not mean you should not try. Look for opportunities to bring up the subject; watch a NOVA or PBS special together and let them know you are always open for questions. Remind them that you are there to offer correct information as what they have heard from friends or other sources may not be accurate.

Bringing home a new baby or visiting someone who has a newborn seems to be a catalyst for good discussion.

So each stage our child is in requires a different approach. There are some books I found that I think contain good words to borrow to answer some of the questions your kids might ask that could leave you speechless. The picture books can be a good springboard to start conversation on the subject.

Suggested books

Picture books

What’s the Big Secret?  By Laurie Brown and Marc Brown

The Baby Tree by Blackall

It’ Not the Stork by Harris and Emberley

Getting Ready For New Baby Harriet Ziefert and Laura Rader

The Visual Dictionary of the Human Body Eye Witness Visual Dictionary

Book for parents

Talking to your Kids about Sex from toddlers to preteens. By Berkenkamp and Antiks (Don’t let the silly illustrations scare you away from this book, the info they write is excellent).

Speaking of Sex by Meg Hickling

So You Want to Raise a Boy (see pg 283-285 for typical questions of children)

This may be a difficult subject for you to approach with your child but remember, as a parent YOU ARE YOUR CHILDS BEST TEACHER.  Telling your child, “As you get a little older and your hormones start to kick in, you will have feelings you’ve never had before. You may start to think things you never imagined, but that’s all normal, it happens to everyone” will help them know nothing is wrong with them.

Start early, mention it often, and try not to panic no matter what they ask.

From a teacher’s perspective, Lindsey adds:

Nature seems to bring up a lot of questions regarding reproduction. I know that more than a few times I have had students in my class ask why some eggs have chicks inside and we could eat the other ones. They wanted to know the difference between the eggs, how to know if it would have a chick or if it would be safe to eat, etc. Since I was their teacher and not their parent I would say, “That’s a great question, you should ask your mom or dad about that”.



Positive Discipline

Positive discipline

I once heard of a teacher who had a student with serious behavior issues.  She was asked to keep track of the good things he did throughout the day.  Her response was, “It’s zero.  He doesn’t do ANYTHING good.”  I have thought back to this many times.  I have especially thought about it when I had especially challenging students.  You know what?  I have discovered that you can always find a way to praise a child.  It may be something as small as, “Wow!  You are holding your pencil so well while writing!”  or “your body is facing the right direction in line!” (even if they are talking and touching the person in front of them).

Kids love attention!  It helps them feel noticed, important and valued.  The best attention a student can receive is positive attention.  It’s the healthiest and most beneficial.  When a child doesn’t feel like they are getting enough positive attention they will take any attention.  They start to act out—they try to get you to focus on them, even if it’s unhappily.

I heard in a class that people feel happy and satisfied in a relationship when the positive to negative encounter ratio is 5:1.  That really rang true to me!  This should be the case when we are interacting with children.

I try really hard to focus on the positive, desired behavior in my classroom.

If half of the class is noisy and out of their seats I say,” Wow!  I love the way Jim is sitting so quietly!  I can tell that he’s ready to learn.  Jessica, you too!  You look fabulous.”  After I have mentioned 2 or 3 positive examples the class is usually on track and ready to go.  The other (less productive) method sounds something like,  “Bill I said sit down!  Betsy you need to stop talking!”  That method never seems to work as well and doesn’t leave me, or the kids feeling as good.  I have even tried positive discipline when only one out of 20 kids is behaving appropriately.  Guess what—it worked!

This works in SO many situations. It helps kids feel validated and noticed in a positive way.  It leaves both of you feeling better and helps your children try to behave positively.

Back to the {discipline} basics

As you probably know, I am here in Thailand teaching. IMG_0771 IMG_0811 I started teaching 3 weeks ago and let me tell you something; the first week was really rough!  The last couple weeks have been really great though.  Do you want to know what made all the difference?  DISCIPLINE. In the past, classroom management and discipline were strengths of mine.  Then I came here and promptly forgot to implement the things I should have.  Maybe I thought they’d already be trained to behave well (they’re not—kids always test the limits with someone new), maybe I thought Thai kids were different (they’re not), or maybe I was mainly focused on the new curriculum and style of teaching.  Whatever it was, I didn’t go in with a strong enough framework and the kids were not behaving well.  Lucky for me, I’m a problem solver and come up with a plan when things aren’t working.  The other fortunate part is that I already knew what I should have been doing; I just had to do it!  So now I’m here to share some discipline basics with you teachers and parents. Discipline-basics

  1. Be clear with what you expect.  It’s easy to fall in to the mindset that since kids have been in school for years already they know what to do.  That may be true, but they need to be reminded (a lot).  Have classroom rules and review them ridiculously often.  I feel really strongly that ‘be respectful’ should be a rule for every kid.  It covers a LOT in one rule (less rules are easier to remember and review) and is a good trait to have throughout their whole life.
  1. Have consequences.  It’s great to tell them what you expect, but if there aren’t consequences afterwards then none of that matters.  If they do what you’ve asked be sure to recognize that.  Anything from a quick “Sam, you look fabulous, thanks for following directions so quickly!” to a behavior chart  on the wall can be effective.  Make sure you have consequences for both positive and negative behavior.  I have seen a lot of teachers who have consequences for negative behavior but not for the good.  Kids respond really well to positive attention—so well that it can prevent a lot of the negative behaviors.

This is what I had the hardest time with here in Thailand.  I set the expectations but didn’t have consequences in place. I just expected them to do what I asked.  When they didn’t I said their name and reminded them what they should have been doing. Then if they did it again I did the same thing.  They quickly realized that I didn’t have a plan for what to do if they didn’t listen to me.  Now that we have a reward system in place they know that if they do great they get to earn a couple stars and if they aren’t they lose the stars one at a time.  They are excited about the things they can save up to buy and they are invested in it!

  1. Follow through.  If you say you are going to do something you need to do it!  If you tell them they need to stop touching the person next to them or they need to move seats you NEED TO HAVE THEM MOVE SEATS when they do it again.  If you don’t they will know that you aren’t telling the truth when you tell them something.  They will try to get away with more and more and you will feel frustrated quickly.  The really great thing about this is that if you DO have good follow through the kids will                            a) Realize you are serious and follow directions more quickly                                        b) Trust you because they know that you will be true to your word                                c) Start to monitor themselves
  1. Be consistent.  I fell like this is so simple and so crucial at the same time!  This goes hand in hand with the point above.  Make sure that the rules are the same for every student and you are being fair.  Be consistent by responding the same for each student and the same from day to day.

Guess what.  Kids are the same all over the world!  My classes still have students who have a hard time focusing, a couple who aren’t real invested in their education, a class clown, someone who thinks they’re smarter than everyone else, a few that are so excited to be there and are always ready, one that can’t sit in a chair for a chunk of time, a couple who can’t seem to control their mouths.  And just like everywhere else in the world they are all capable, crave boundaries and consistency, and want to have fun and be loved. Now that I have implemented the discipline basics things are going fantastically!  I feel like this has been an experience to help me rediscover things I already knew.

Teachers, is there anything I forgot that you have found to be helpful? Also, if you want to read about my adventures over in Thailand feel free to head over and take a look!