Importance of preschool behavior charts and best practices

a teacher reading the behaviour chart of the children

In theory, it’s easy to assume preschoolers would comply every time you reward them for completing a task. But in real life, children under the age of 5 act out when you enforce your decisions upon them, and they sulk and whine until you give in to their whims. But, are you doing the right thing by settling for their demands? And most importantly, are you setting a good example for them?

According to experts, a preschool behavior chart is an effective tool to manage preschool behavior and inculcate a positive environment in your class. You use it to collect data on student behavior, which you can use to create preschool assessments and share with the parents to keep track of student growth. Read this article to find what to include in the chart and how to use it for preschool behavior management.

Interesting read: 12 toughest challenges faced by childcare owners

Table of contents

  • What are typical behaviors for preschoolers?
  • Preschool behavior management best practices
  • Preschool behavior management advice from the experts
  • Why do teachers use preschool behavior charts?
  • What should be included in a preschool behavior chart?
  • Types of preschool behavior charts that encourage kids

What are typical behaviors for preschoolers?

No one knows more about preschool behaviors than child psychologists. According to them,

  • Preschoolers crave for independence to move around as they want and do what they please.
  • Their curious minds jump from one task to the next, making them easily distracted.
  • They’re eager to please their friends and family and show fondness for them.
  • They’re able to distinguish among their emotions.
  • They follow complex directions easily due to improved physical and mental coordination.

Here are signs of problem behavior in preschoolers.

  • Tantrum throwing
  • Lying
  • Signs of anxiety
  • Uncontrollable bouts of anger
  • Screaming and shouting to get their way

Preschool behavior management best practices

Here are some suggestions by preschool teachers for classroom control that ensure the students are nurtured responsibly.

1. Work together

If you respond to child A’s misbehavior by doing nothing and to child B’s behavior by taking away their play privilege, we’ve got a problem. It’s important to have a consistent approach when a student’s behavior spirals out of control. Preschoolers are excellent observers, and if you have different rules for different students, then the ones who get picked on a lot will start acting out to elicit a reaction from you. This article by Sue Cowley has additional tips on how to tackle misbehavior together.

2. Read the room

If a child is exhibiting challenging behavior, instead of calling them out in the class and ridiculing them, take them outside. Try to get to the core of the issue: What may be causing the child to seek attention? What is their family situation? Do they feel loved and belonged? Are they being bullied? Usually, preschoolers with erratic behavior want to feel a sense of validation, which they’re deprived of. Nicola Wardropper, Early Years Advisor, takes you through how to read student minds in this article centering around preschool classroom management.

3. Practice what you preach

Losing your cool and screaming at your students is unacceptable in any given scenario. You need to be a good role model for them and emulate the behavior you want them to practice. Generally speaking, children are sensitive to volume and tone. They’re not thick-skinned like you are, so practice empathy and encourage students to interact respectfully. Nikky Smedley has written an insightful story on why it’s best not to shout at preschoolers.

4. Use reflective language

Put yourself in the child’s shoes and try to see the situation from their perspective. It’s important not to make them feel like they’re being judged for having feelings. When you sit down with them to have a chat, instead of rebuking them, tell them a story from your childhood where you were acting in ways similar to them and what that taught you. The child will warm up to you when they realize that you too have had similar experiences and they’ll trust you to seek help. Read Cath Hunter’s guide on how reflective language helps improve the teacher-student relationship in preschool.

5. Develop a clear behavior policy

Stick a list of do’s and don’ts to the bulletin board in your classroom and ensure you iterate your classroom expectations from time to time. In fact, the best way to get them to listen would be to reflect on the policies every morning before they move about their day. Incorporating this into your daily schedule will help build trust between you and the preschoolers. Read Sue Cowley’s advice on how to take action against students who break the behavior policy.

Preschool behavior management advice from the experts

“Praise works both consistently and intermittently, but I would caution against saying ‘Good job!’ Be specific with praise, and children will repeat the behavior associated with it. For example, you can say, ‘I see how hard you worked at cleaning up your scraps of drawing paper! Would you like to save them for another project or recycle them?’”

– Mari Kurahashi, general psychiatry at Stanford School of Medicine

“There should be clearly demarcated areas in the room—like reading, timeout, play, food—and rules surrounding those areas. If the boundaries of each space are clear, it facilitates the relationships in the room. Difficult situations occur less often and can be resolved more quickly.”

  • Adam Cole, co-director at Grant Park Academy

“A developmentally appropriate environment for a toddler or preschooler takes a holistic approach. Focus on creating a space that is conducive to a child’s visual, auditory, and emotional development. At this age, it’s important to keep learning centers simple so children are not overwhelmed.”

“Teachers should be warm and caring toward children who are acting upset. Every child is different, but with some children, all they really need is a warm hug to calm down.”

  • Stephanie Leclair, founder of Tiny Hoppers

Why do teachers use preschool behavior management practices?

Teachers use preschool behavior management to educate children on good habits and reward them for the progress they’re making, among other things.

1. Use visual reinforcement

You can use a behavior chart to reinforce signs of good behavior that a child displays and compliment them for the effort they’re making. It will encourage the child to do better and perform their best knowing that they’ll be validated for their accomplishments. Paul Dix explains how you can use reinforcement to get children to clean up after themselves.

2. Tackle unwanted behavior

Preschoolers are fragile and prone to emotional meltdowns. But how you respond to their meltdown says a lot about whether they confide in you, or not. Using preschool behavior charts to frame meaningful observations will help you track the progress the child is making. It will also keep your co-teacher and the preschool owner posted about the steps you take to control your class behavior.

3. Applaud kids for what they excel in

One of the most common problems faced by preschool teachers is following up on disruptive children daily in the light of overwhelming admin work. Illumine is a childcare app designed for preschool teachers to make their lives easier. You can celebrate a child’s small wins by posting a picture of their star-studded behavior chart to Illumine’s dashboard for all the parents to see, like, and acknowledge.

4. Personalize feedback

You can improve your productivity and efficiency by keeping a record of a child’s misdemeanors and corrective behavior using the chart. It will help you personalize the feedback you share in the preschool report card. You can even use our free template linked in the blog to create a report card all parents will love!

5. Keep families in the loop

To improve parent communication, it is important to keep families posted about the child’s growth. That is why with Illumine, you can send real-time activity updates to parents in-app and digitize communication for increasing parent satisfaction. You can also enable parents to witness everything their child is up to for getting them closely involved in their ward’s life with our CCTV streaming feature.

What should be included in a preschool behavior chart?

Here’s what you must keep in mind while creating a preschool behavior chart:

  • Set a realistic goal.
  • Add examples of behaviors you would like your class to adopt.
  • Make these behaviors specific.
  • Add a star every time a child exhibits good qualities.

Types of preschool behavior charts that encourage kids

If you want to help children grow holistically, download our preschool behavior chart templates now! These charts will help you support the child’s learning journey and enable them to practice empathy and kindness.

Illumine is a childcare app dedicated to making collaborating with parents efficient. If your preschool is struggling in this area, book a demo with us or sign up to prioritize student welfare.

preschool behavior chart for manners

preschool behavior chart for individual students

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