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Ask an RT

Every day Resource Consultants receive questions about behaviour. Here is one of the challenging situations an RECE has shared. Please remember prior to implementing any new behavioural strategy always ensure it is in accordance with your centre’s Behavioural Management Policy and approved by your supervisor.

An RECE working with a group of preschoolers shared her concerns as to the lack of positive interactions between the children during the playroom routine. She has observed that most of the children are engaged in parallel play. Attempts made to initiate play are often negative and physical in nature. Structuring the play opportunities based on the children’s interests and organizing some interactive activities has not seemed to have an impact.

Promoting strong social relationships between preschoolers can be challenging. However, supporting the shift from parallel to interactive experiences can assist children in feeling more comfortable in initiating and sustaining play with their peers and as a result reduce the amount of behavioural issues during playroom routine. Spend some time on specific activities that will assist the children in getting to learn more about their peers. Help them become aware of their peers, likes and dislikes, strengths and things they want to work on. It is amazing how little they know about each other even though they spend the majority of their day together.

Once you have strengthened their relationships, focus on the play skills. Remember that play involves three important steps: entering play, sustaining play and exiting play. Concentrate on building the children’s capacity to enter play first. Until this skill is achieved, it is difficult to develop sustainable functional and positive play experiences. Increase their awareness of their body when they enter a play area; how fast are you moving, and is there room in the area? Ensure they have a job or a role; what are you going to do? Once they master entering, shift your focus to the next aspect of play. It’s a process, but the positive results you will notice will be worth all the effort.

Try Some of These Relationship Building Activities

  • Take a picture of the children in your class. Cut them out into individual cards. Using emergent curriculum guidelines, post the interests of the group for that week or the activity centres available. Have the children put their picture beside their item of interest. This provides a visual for the children. Encourage them to pick a friend whose picture is beside theirs to play with.
  • Have a basket or bag filled with activities preschoolers like to do. Each activity must have a corresponding number 1-6. Using a large dice, allow each child to roll and pick a card that matches the number. Have the child find a peer that likes that activity too. If dressing up as a princess is on a card, make sure that the costumes are available in the drama centre. This game can be done with the whole group or one or two children each day. It can easily be used indoors or outdoors.
  • Provide each child with a strip of construction paper. Have the child find someone who: has the same eye colour, who: has a sister, who: can ride a two wheeler, whose: mom is a teacher, etc. Try and think of as many different things as you can. Once the child has found a peer they can join their strips together to form a chain. Add to the chain each day and watch it grow as the children learn about things they have in common. 

This section is dedicated to all of you who have questions. Feel free to send your questions to denisepalermo@etobicokechildren.com. The Keeping In Touch Newsletter Committee will review your questions and attempt to provide you with information and ideas. In order to protect the sender no names or child care centres will be mentioned.