Children transitioning to kindergarten may display many off task behaviors; talking to friends, wandering around the room, aggression or not completing classwork.
Teachers can manage these behaviors by teaching students strategies to manage conflict and self manage behaviors.
While external rewards and behavior modification programs may be successful for some students, teaching self regulation and intrinsic motivation will support students better over time.
Disruptive Kindergarten Behaviors: An Introduction
Many of the behaviors that disrupt the kindergarten classroom are a result of the new expectations that come with the kindergarten transition.
The most common disruptive behaviors in the kindergarten classroom are:
- Making Noise
- Talking to Peers
- Not Completing Classwork
- Moving Around
- Missing School
For most students these behaviors will stop as the students adjust to the new environment, but some students will need more support.
Tips to Deal with Disruptive Kindergarten Behavior
Setting up a classroom that promotes positive behavior is the first step to dealing with disruptive behaviors.
It is very difficult for a student to participate in disruptive behavior in a positive classroom environment, so set yourself and your students up for success by providing clear expectations and support for difficult behaviors.
As the year kicks off, be sure to practice behaviors that you expect to see.
Walking in the hallway is a great behavior to practice, entering the library, returning from recess.
Have students practice these routines until they are able to do them correctly. It can be helpful to pause and try again if there is a particularly difficult time of day.
Set Clear Expectations
Be sure you set clear expectations for success.
It can be easier to demonstrate these expectations than to put them into words, but you should have written expectations posted.
Kindergarteners may need help building the habit of washing hands after using the bathroom.
Posting a sign in the bathroom may remind them, but pairing it with a demonstration on proper hand washing will be more powerful.
When you ask students to walk quietly in the hallway they may not know what that means.
Clear expectations would be, do not talk when we are in the hallway walking in from recess.
Teach strategies that students can use to manage their own behavior.
You are sure to have some conflict in your classroom and students will need help with healthy conflict resolution.
Classroom circles can help students see what good conflict resolution looks like.
A peer mediation training can be helpful for students who are finding themselves arguing frequently.
Students who are easily discouraged by a mistake may benefit from a lesson on growth mindset.
Whatever you find your students struggling with, be sure you have provided them with the support they need to grow and overcome the struggle.
When addressing disruptive behavior of one student, be sure to use respectful language.
Give the student privacy by having the conversation out of view of their peers.
If you have lost your temper with your student, be brave and apologize for the way you spoke to them, and start again.
A child who is outspokenly disruptive may be feeling a lack of control.
You can support this child by giving them control over some things in the classroom by giving them special jobs.
These students may enjoy tidying up the classroom library, stapling papers, passing out materials or collecting the equipment at the end of PE.
Communicate with Parents
Disruptive behaviors can really impact student success, so be sure to loop parents into the struggles you are having in the classroom.
Parents may be able to provide more information about the student as well as support classroom goals.
Parents can be a great support when you are working on creating a positive classroom environment.
When you are at your wits end with a student behavior, enlist help.
Ask a mentor teacher what they would do in that situation, ask if admin is available to observe, take time to observe in another classroom to see what techniques are successful in another classroom.
It can be helpful to observe the disruptive student in their art or PE time so you can see their behavior in another environment.
Observations are very helpful when you just need to take a step back to get some ideas.
When a behavior requires a consequence, enforce one.
Many schools provide a matrix of behavior consequences that can guide your decisions.
If you are not sure what behaviors merit consequences, discuss the matrix with your administration.
Following a standard procedure helps make consequences fair and consistent.
Dealing With Non Attendance in Kindergarten
Students who do not attend school regularly may struggle to keep up academically.
Non attendance to school can be very disruptive to the learning environment, but the behavior is a parent behavior not a student behavior.
Kindergarten is a transition for all members of the family, but attendance is required by law and is an important behavior to monitor.
Be sure to keep accurate attendance records as these may be required if the parents are charged with truancy.
Take attendance each day and be sure to update it when students leave or arrive late.
Be sure to contact parents as soon as you notice chronic absences. Two absences a week is enough to merit a phone call.
Keep a record of all contact you have with parents and notes on the conversation. You may be asked for these notes.
Most schools have a policy for when attendance needs to be reported to the attendance officer.
Many school systems use a management system that automatically sends alerts to the admin in charge of attendance, but you will want to keep your own records.
Document any attendance concerns in email to the appropriate administration and attendance officer.
These documents could become important if the parents are brought to court.
Encourage the Student
Remember that your kindergartener is not responsible for their non attendance.
Do your best to encourage them that you are happy they are at school whenever they are present.
Do not bring up their absences.
Follow any guidelines for makeup work.
Disruptive Behavior in Kindergarten
Kindergarten is a big time of transition for kids and families and there is bound to be some bumps along the road.
Be prepared to support students and create a positive classroom environment where students are learning and growing.
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Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.