Sunday, June 7, 2009

Update on "Time out"

I was much influenced by the fantastic comments on my last post and we made some changes in our room. We dismantled the notion of time out and in it's place created "The Quiet Place". I love the mystery the name evokes, even if it does sound a tad creepy. In the only available space that was actually quiet, we set up a rug and rocking chair facing the lovely greenery out of the lunch room windows. I gave a grace and courtesy lesson about "the quiet place" inviting anyone, at any time to use it for as long as they need to. I emphasized "This is a good place to be if you are feeling sad, angry, or tired."

The first days, it was frequented often by many different children. I noticed that some of the children that have a tendency to wander/disturb others, spent time rocking in the chair. When a child was getting noticeably frustrated and clearly on a road to no good, I noticed "I can see that you are getting frustrated, do you remember where is a good place to go to when you are feeling like that?"

This new area has given us the opportunity to invite children that need a little time away from the group a place to go to on their own with no shame. Since children choose to be there independently of an invitation, they don't feel like they are being punished.

Aside from this new addition to our room, our extra social responsibilities for those who need them the most have been working very well. The child who has trouble sharing the water pitcher at the snack table, for example, often gets invited to serve water to all the children outside at the end of the day.

(Thank you so much to the people who shared their valuable experience and ideas in the last comments.)


J. MacIsaac Studios said...

Those are all great ideas for the classroom, but what do you suggest for home use? I have a three year old and a one year old. The one year old is still too young to understand at all, but the three year old has a definite need for discipline. I am however stuck as to what to do. She is very strong willed and not a lot really gets her attention. For example if she tackles her sister I usually have her sit in "time out" for a couple of min. to think and calm down. Then I have her talk with me about why it is not nice to tackle her sister and other ways to handle her frustration that might be better. Then she goes to apologies to her sister. This worked for a little while but now it seems very mechanical and not heartfelt. I just can't think of another alternative. Also she has hit a very defiant stage where she will simply refuse to listen, she will say things like, "No, Mommy I won't, you do it!" when I ask her to clean up her toys. It is easy to lose my temper and I really would like to find a gentle way to diffuse the situation before it escalates. Any ideas?

P.S. Montessori said...

Last year I had a "peace table" with two chairs, where I would encourage children to go to "work things out". It actually worked very well (after a LOT of grace and courtesy), and I was sad to find that I didn't have enough room this year (more children) to set it up. I am definitely going to set up something similar again next year. Maybe one small rocking chair is all I need!

Susy said...

Great idea and implementation! Especially since the children can go there on their own. That seems like true Montessori inner discipline activity!