Dining Room: Picture Rules
How to Use Picture Rules in the Dining Room
Sophie is a toddler. Toddlers’ brains are built for movement and exploration, and their self-regulatory skills are just starting to come online. For Sophie, sitting still at mealtimes can be a monumental task! The Bug Family created a set of Picture Rules to help Sophie remember her mealtime manners. They also help her be successful by making sure she’s one of the last members to sit down before the meal begins and allowing her to be excused when her meal is finished (even if older family members are still eating).
Sophie’s mealtime Picture Rules are posted right by her seat. The ideal format for these is the same as the Picture Rule Cards in the classroom: one image of a hurtful behavior with a mark through it and two images of helpful choices. Occasionally, you might want to add a fourth option like the Bug Family did here for Sophie. Showing several helpful choices and one “no” choice provides children with clear images of the rules.
Photograph children demonstrating the helpful choices and hurtful/unsafe behavior. Mark through the hurtful/unsafe choice. Then post each set of cards together. For example, Sophie’s mealtime cards depict: 1) You may sit with your legs under the table, 2) You may sit on your knees, 3) You may sit with Dad, and 4) You may not stand or half-stand. Cross through the last choice (the undesirable choice of standing or half-standing).
At mealtime, Mom might simply point to the Picture Rules as a silent reminder. She might also point to the three positive sitting choices while saying, “Sophie, let’s check in. Are you sitting safely (point, point, point),” and then giving Sophie the opportunity to reflect and adjust her behavior to a safe choice. Then Mom follows up with descriptive, encouraging praise: “Good for you! You realized you were half-standing so you sat back down on your bottom. That’s keeping it safe!”
*To learn more about how teachers use Picture Rule Cards in the classroom, check out the product video for Shubert’s Classroom Picture Rule Cards.