|Principal & Clinic|
Baby Doll Circle Time
Changing Table and I Love You Rituals
Friends and Family Board
I Love You Rituals Bib Set
Ways to be Helpful
Wish Well Ritual
Children require one-on-one connection to thrive. Baby Doll Circle Time is an infant/toddler curriculum that helps provide these necessary connections for every child without increasing staff time or staff numbers.
The Baby Doll Circle Time curriculum provides step-by-step instructions and an instructional DVD to help caregivers lead young children and their baby dolls in fun, engaging activities that fall into the categories of Peek-a-boo, Body Parts, Booboos, I Love You Rituals, Stop and Go, and Emotions. These activities promote the secure attachment that is vital to children’s lifelong success.
Toddlers’ impulsivity can be a challenge for caregivers, but it’s also the beginning of learning cause/effect and impulse control. Toddlers are not yet able to understand the consequences of their behavior, so adults must set limits that provide safety and teach new skills during conflicts.
Conflict is an opportunity to teach missing executive or social-emotional skills. The Conflict Resolution Time Machine is designed to help teachers and children transform hurtful acts into life lessons through the use of respectful, assertive communication. It is the hub of your bully prevention program.
|5-7 months||8-13 months||15-36 months||4+|
|Why||Teething or discomfort around the mouth||Overexcited||Stressed, frustrated, as a strategy to get something, often during transitions||Early stressor, tantrums|
|What To Do||
||Seek professional help|
|Message||"My mouth hurts. Help!"||"I'm so excited, I'm over aroused. Help!"||"I know no other way to get what I want or express myself. Help!"||"My clacker is way off. Help!"|
Use ACT when setting limits and targeting acceptable behavior.
A – Acknowledge what the child wants or feels
“You were hoping mommy would stay longer.”
“You seem angry.”
C – Communicate the limit clearly, simply and assertively
“Stop. Climbing on the tables is not safe.”
“OUCH. Hitting hurts.”
T – Target acceptable behavior, providing the child alternatives for expressing the original desire/action.
“Stop. Climbing on the table is not safe. You may climb on the stairs or the climber.”
“Stop. Hitting hurts. Touch me like this.” (demonstrate)
There are four ways to introduce the Time Machine:
Coach children in using the Time Machine as follows:
Step 1: Roll back time. Have the participants and the class (when applicable) roll their hands backwards signifying going back in time.
Step 2: Are you willing? Ask for willingness. "Are you willing to solve the problem so everyone in the class can learn helpful ways?" If willing, the victim stands on the "I don't like it" side of the mat, and the aggressor on the other side.
Step 3: Breathing star. Be a S.T.A.R. Everyone Smiles, Takes a deep breath And Relaxes.
Step 4: Tree of hearts. Wish each other well. Everyone places their hands on their hearts and offers well-wishes to each other.
Step 5: 1-2-3. Focus on the goal. The adult and/or the class chants, "1-2-3," and the participants respond, "Let's do it," to build unity.
Step 6: Sentence starters. Coach the children to use helpful words. Have the victim speak first using the sentence starter printed on the Time Machine. "I don't like it when you ____. Next time, please______." Help children reframe their thoughts to show how they want to be treated. Instead of, "Stop it," teach phrases like, "Next time say, Move please, instead of pushing me."
Step 7: Hearts and globe. Connect to repair the bond and show there are no hard feelings. Participants connect with a handshake, a hug, a high-five or other connection.
Chapter 12 of the School Family book details how to teach and use the Time Machine with children. The Conscious Discipline book helps adults identify their assertive voice and use tattling as a teaching tool (the most common way aggressive acts are reported is through tattling). Shubert’s Big Voice is essential in teaching children assertiveness. Read it often and provide opportunities for children to role-play using the Time Machine in group lessons.
The brain functions optimally when a person feels safe. The basic job description for a teacher in a Conscious Discipline classroom is "My job is to keep the class safe." The children's job is "To help keep the class safe."
Safekeeper Rituals look different in different classrooms. One of the most common Safekeeper rituals involves each child selecting or creating an item that represents him or herself. (A photo glued to a popsicle stick or foam core is ideal for young children.) Each morning the teacher states the Safekeeper job description and asks the children to commit to keeping the class safe by putting their item/photo in a decorated Safekeeper box.
Complete instructions for the Safekeeper Ritual can be found in the School Family book. “Safe Keeper” on Kindness Counts and “Safe and Calm” on Brain Boogie Boosters support the Safekeeper job description and Safekeeper Ritual.
Connection with others creates connections inside the brain! I Love You Rituals are delightful connecting activities that foster optimal brain development, increased cooperation, increased attention span and more. The embroidered I Love You Ritual Bib Set brings three favorite rituals to feeding time.
Offer a choice by hold a bib in each hand, spreading them at least a foot apart and asking the child, “Which do you want, Twinkle, Twinkle with the star (move the Twinkle bib slightly) or Three Nice Mice with the mouse (move the Mice bib slightly)?” Older toddlers will point to verbalize a choice. With infants and younger toddlers, watch for eye and hand gestures that indicate a choice. Celebrate, “You did it! You chose Twinkle, Twinkle!” Then conduct the ritual using the instructions provided on the product packaging or by making up your own movements. The key to the I Love You Rituals’ brain-building power is to incorporate eye contact, touch and presence in a playful setting.
Every child in a Conscious Discipline classroom has a job. These jobs provide children an opportunity to build self-worth and responsibility by contributing to the School Family in meaningful ways. The School Family Job Board provides a management system for your class jobs.
Create a list of the classroom routines, rituals and duties you conduct every day in class. From this list, select the jobs that are most important and can be done by your students. You will have one job for every student.
Display your jobs in such a way that every child can visually see his or her job. Supply props as needed, like providing a kindness tree for the Kindness Recorder and a star wand for the S.T.A.R. Helper. Teach how to do each job, and then rotate on a weekly basis. When it is time for the jobs to rotate, each child teaches his job to the next child.
The School Family Job Set provides a sturdy job board, job cards, detailed instructions and helpful job descriptions to simplify setting up your classroom job system. Chapter 11 of Creating the School Family provides information, activities and a list of possible jobs for your classroom. "Jobs Matter" on Kindness Counts and "I'm a Helpful Person" on I Love You Rituals Volume 2 support the Job Board.
The Friends and Family Board builds community and connection, and links the home family with the School Family. In early childhood centers, it also provides a valuable way for young children to feel the presence of family members they may be missing during the school day.
Take pictures of children and their families during home visits, open house or the first day of school, or ask students to bring in a family photo. Put these images on a bulletin board titled “Friends and Family Board.” Add pictures of staff the children will come in contact with. Update the images as needed.
Creating the School Family provides extensive background information and activities for your Friends and Family Board. In Shubert's New Friend, Shubert takes a photo of his new classmate to include on the Friends and Family Board.
Many songs support the Friends and Family Board, including "I Like to Be with You" on I Love You Rituals Volume 2, "All Together," "Friendship Chant," People to People" and "My School Family" on It Starts in the Heart, "In Every One of Us," "Love is a Circle" and "We All Count" on Kindness Counts; and "You are Heart," "Friends Connect" and "Team of Two" on Brain Boogie Boosters.
Some children (and parents) have difficulty separating at drop-off. Creating a visual routine book for drop-off provides support for both parents and children. A routine is a pattern for how to conduct a certain activity. The more consistent and clearly represented these routines are, the more safely, smoothly and cooperatively your classroom will run. Young children’s brains encode information in pictures, so it is essential that all your routines be depicted visually.
Take pictures of the parent/guardian and child at each step of the drop off routine. Use these pictures to create a “My drop-off” book. For example:
Page 1: Mom is going to drive me to school (picture of child in car seat).
Page 2: Mom is going to walk/carry me to my classroom (picture of Mom and child entering classroom).
Page 3: Mom is going to sign me in and put my things away (picture of Mom doing these things).
Page 4: My teacher is going to great my mom (picture of teacher greeting Mom).
Page 5: My teacher is going to greet me. (Picture of teacher greeting child.)
Page 6: I am going to do an I Love You Ritual with Mom. (picture of child and Mom doing a ritual).
Page 7: I am going to say goodbye to Mom (picture of child and Mom waving goodbye).
Page 8: My teacher is going to keep me safe at school (picture of teacher holding child).
Print two copies of the book, one for home and one for school. Ask the family to read the book to the child each morning. Create and read “Going Home” books during the school day to help prepare children for the pick-up routine.
The School Family book devotes an entire chapter to creating routines, posting them visually and supporting them with related activities. The Conscious Discipline book also explores routines in-depth.
The Safe Place is a center where children can go to change their inner state from upset to composed. It is the centerpiece of your self-regulation program.
A chair, beanbag, throw rug or pillow serves as a base for your Safe Place. Fill the Safe Place with tools and activities that lead children through the active calming process.
Infant and younger toddler classrooms rely heavily on the teacher’s ability to help the upset child calm himself. Your lap or chest is the infant’s first Safe Place. Hold the upset child and breathe deeply with him. A young toddler will be able to go to the Safe Place with help and conduct the active calming techniques you have taught him with the assistance of props like the I Can Calm book and Safe Place Mat.
Older toddlers are ready for you to introduce them concepts that will ultimately become the five steps of self-regulation: I Am, I Calm, I Feel, I Choose, I Solve. The I Am step involves the initial upset when the child becomes the emotion. “I am angry!” The I Am Smock is helpful for demonstrating this stage of upset. The I Calm step requires active calming, featuring the four main breathing techniques, access to a Friends and Family book, and other calming activities. The I Feel step includes identifying the feeling with the Feeling Buddies or a Feeling chart. The I Choose step requires the child to consciously choose additional calming activities utilizing the Brain Smart Choice Cube, I Choose Board and/or class-made choice boards. The I Solve step involves the child solving the original problem before returning to work or play, often through the use of the Time Machine so the child can practice redoing the upsetting event with helpful language/actions.
Sophie is a S.T.A.R. is essential for teaching young children active calming. Read it regularly and provide props for children to practice deep inhales and exhales. Shubert is a S.T.A.R. teaches how to use the Safe Place and models the four main breathing exercises in Conscious Discipline: S.T.A.R., Drain, Pretzel and Balloon. Spend ample time teaching and modeling relaxation techniques so children can learn how to calm themselves.
The Safe Place is discussed in detail, including activities and images, in Chapter 9 of Creating the School Family. There are many products that support the active calming process, such as the Safe Place Mat, Safe Place Posters, I Can Calm book and Calming Pillows. Helpful music for the Safe Place includes "Bye Bye Crankies" on I Love You Rituals Volume 2, "Snuggle Up" on I Love You Rituals Volume 1, "S.T.A.R. Song" on It Starts in the Heart, "You Can Relax Now" on Kindness Counts, and "Calm Your Brain" and "Safe and Calm" on Brain Boogie Boosters.
The Feeling Buddies Self-Regulation Toolkit offers a comprehensive, advanced approach that teaches not only active calming strategies, but also the essential messages our emotions carry and the constructive inner speech that is crucial to the self-regulation of difficult emotions.
Just as your morning greeting ritual provides a way to connect with every child and parent/guardian at the beginning of the day, your goodbye ritual sends each child off with the message, “You are valued. I’m glad you were here today.”
As children are picked up from class, offer each child a goodbye. It can be as quick as a pat on the back with eye contact or as intimate as an I Love You Ritual. The verbal and nonverbal message to send is, “You are valued. I’m glad you were here today!” Too often we tend to use the goodbye time to give parents/guardians a quick report about children’s challenging behaviors. Instead, focus on the message of value and connection; tell the parent/guardian one helpful or kind thing their child did during the day. Remember, what you focus on, you get more of.
Props like a greeting apron or a greeting poster offer children choices about how they would like to say goodbye, just as they did during your morning greeting. The Make-n-Take CD-Rom contains a helpful template for homemade greeting aprons.
The brain is a pattern-seeking device. It feels safe when it can detect a clear pattern. The more consistent your routines are and the more clearly you represent them, the more safely, smoothly and cooperatively your classroom will run. For young children, a visual depiction of the daily routine (schedule) is essential to creating a felt sense of safety.
Daily Routine Cards help to organize your daily classroom schedule visually. You may make your own by photographing or illustrating the basic components of the day or you can purchase the Daily Routine Card set from Conscious Discipline. Display the cards clearly to show what comes next. Point to the corresponding card whenever you switch to a new activity. When children ask, “When is lunch?” lead them to the chart and point to where you are in the schedule and where lunch is in the schedule. Ultimately, children will use the cards by themselves to help predict what comes next. This predictability soothes the brain, helping children maintain the optimal learning state of calm alertness.
The daily routine is just one of the many routines in an early childhood classroom. The School Family book devotes an entire chapter to creating routines, posting them visually and supporting them with related activities. Music that supports daily routines includes "Skip Count" and "I Gotta Go" on Brain Boogie Boosters.
Wishing well offers a way for children to support each other and calm themselves. The Wish Well Board provides a visual way to aid children in wishing each other well during your daily Wish Well Ritual.
Wishing well is a way to instantly calm ourselves, and offer love and caring to others. It lays the foundation for empathy, an essential social skill. Wishing well provides a way for children to help others when there is no physically tangible way to offer help. To wish well 1) put your hands over your heart 2) take a deep breath in 3) pause and picture something precious in your mind 4) breathe out while opening your arms and sending those precious, loving thoughts out to the person you are wishing well.
The Wish Well Board is used for the class-wide Wish Well Ritual. When a child is absent, moving to another school, has arrived late or is in need of support for other reasons, place the child's picture or name in the heart inside your Wish Well Board. During your Wish Well Ritual, you will invite the class to wish the child well with the process described above, and/or by singing a song like "We Wish You Well" on I Love You Rituals Volume 2 or "I Wish You Well" on It Starts in the Heart (in English and Spanish). You may purchase a Wish Well Board, or create your own using a magnetic cookie sheet and magnets or foam board and velcro.
Making commitments and following through on them builds self-esteem, neurologically bathing the body in feel-good chemicals. These chemicals help focus attention and achieve goals. Commitments help us shift from being unconsciously stimulus-driven to becoming consciously goal-oriented.
Commitments can be individual, like having each child take a clothespin with his name on it and place it beside a class agreement. The class can make a group commitment with the teacher stating, "Today I’m going to use kind words with friends," and the children would signal their commitment with a thumbs up. Provide a time at the end of the day to invite children to evaluate their commitments. The children respond with either, "I did it,” or, "Oops." An Oops is an opportunity to try again tomorrow.
Some children may have difficulty keeping their commitments. Check to see their commitments are specific, narrow in scope and realistic. Instead of, “Today I will be nice all day,” coach them to say, “Today at recess I will invite a friend to play with me.”
The brain is a pattern-seeking device. A routine is a pattern for how to conduct a certain activity. The more consistent and clearly represented these routines are, the more safely, smoothly and cooperatively your classroom will run. Young children’s brains encode information in pictures, so it is essential that all your routines be depicted visually.
Early childhood classrooms have a variety of routines from lining up to hand washing. Create visual routines for the basic steps to conduct for each of these activities and post them throughout the classroom. Generally speaking, difficult times and tasks in the classroom are an indication of places where clear routines are missing. Examine these rough spots in your day, and create a simple visual representation of the routines that are needed to restore order.
The School Family book devotes an entire chapter to creating routines, posting them visually and supporting them with related activities. The Conscious Discipline book also explores routines in-depth. Music that supports daily routines includes "Skip Count" and "I Gotta Go" on Brain Boogie Boosters.
In early childhood centers, the morning message serves as a greeting for the adults in the center. Use this space to relay uplifting thoughts, encouraging insights and Conscious Discipline “aha” moments with those entering the school to pick up and drop off their children.
Choose a highly visible location to post a dry erase board that will serve as your Morning Message center. Write a daily quote or thought that is relevant to your unique school, students and families. Many of the quotes in the 365 Days of Conscious Discipline perpetual calendar are perfectly suited for this purpose. Other sources for quotes might include the NAEYC newsletter, online forums, spiritual texts, etc., depending on your unique community.
Greetings provide a way to connect with every family that enters the classroom. In an infant/toddler classroom, the greeting is as helpful for the parent/guardian as it is for the child! All parents/guardians want to know their children are going to be safe and valued, and have a fun day of learning while at school. You can assist in this felt sense of safety and security for both parents/guardians and children by taking a moment to authentically connect during drop off. For the children, this felt sense of safety and connection is essential to a day of cooperation, caring, learning and fun!
Select a location where you will stand every morning to greet families. Send the verbal and nonverbal message, “Hello, I’m glad you’re here today! I will keep your precious child safe.”
Infants and younger toddlers will engage in a cooperative ritual between you, the child and the parent/guardian. A brief I Love You Rituals is an excellent choice for a greeting. So is the simple greeting ritual described below:
With loving eye contact, say, “Good morning __(parent/guardian name)__. I see you’ve brought your precious __(child name)__ with you and __(child name)__ has brought his/her __(elbow, toes, etc.)__!” Give the named body part a squeeze and lift the child from the parent/guardian’s arms.
Older toddlers may enjoy props like a greeting apron or a greeting poster that offer them choices about how they would like to be greeted. This also enables you to utilize the “Greeter” job on your School Family Job board to assist in greeting children as they enter the room. For example, you might put images of a butterfly, a hand and a bear on aprons you and the Greeter wear or on a poster near the classroom door. Point to the greeting images, ask children how they would like to be greeted and then share a playful greeting together. (Make up greetings to go with the images.) The Make-n-Take CD-Rom contains a helpful template for homemade greeting aprons.
Dr. Bailey designed I Love You Rituals as a playful means to promote optimal brain development, increase attention span, reduce hyperactivity, build self-esteem, amplify cooperation and facilitate language development. These transformative rituals can be enjoyed in an adult-child setting or between children, and are essential in early childhood classrooms.
I Love You Rituals are structured connecting activities that include eye contact, touch, presence and playfulness. They help ensure all children in your center receive the brain-building personal connection required for optimal growth.
Conduct your I Love You Rituals at the beginning of the day, during circle time, after transitions and on the diapering table. The diapering table is an especially helpful place to conduct these rituals because diapering is a personal experience many children resist. Hang the I Love You Ritual Posters above your changing table and conduct a quick ritual every time you change a child’s diaper. This ensures every child gets one-on-one contact every day and helps transform an often-resisted event into a cooperative, caring one.
I Love You Rituals are helpful for all children, but are particularly essential to fostering healthy connection and development when enjoyed with children with challenging behaviors, who are at-risk or who experience special needs. Schedule regular one-on-one I Love You Ritual time with children who call for help through difficult behaviors like aggression, tantrums or withdrawal.
Expose families to I Love You Rituals by conducting them at drop off and/or pick up. Conscious Discipline’s copyright policy also allows you to send these wonderful activities home to families by reprinting a ritual in your center’s newsletter when you also print a credit to the I Love You Rituals book and our website.
The I Love You Rituals book contains 75+ activities. Some of our top I Love You Rituals are featured on the I Love You Rituals Poster Set and the I Love You Rituals on a String. Music that supports the I Love You Rituals can be found on the Songs for I Love You Rituals CDs, Volumes 1 and 2.
The first step in helping children be successful is for adults to focus on the behaviors we want to see, and then convey that information to children clearly (with visual aids whenever possible). The more clearly we state the expectation, the more likely children are to fulfill it! Remind yourself to focus on the behaviors you want to see more of, and help children see exactly how to be successful by creating a Ways To Be Helpful Board.
Take a moment to focus on how you want your classroom to run. Write out a list of the behaviors necessary to fulfill your mental image of what you want cafeteria behavior to look like. Use positive terms (“gentle touches” rather than “no hitting”) and specific behaviors. If “taking turns” and “making room for friends” are behaviors you want to see more of, then you would include them in your list. Illustrate or take photos of the behaviors and place them on the Ways To Be Helpful Board. Additional information about Ways To Be Helpful can be found in the School Family and Conscious Discipline books.
Circle Time is the perfect time to get your day off to a Brain Smart Start. The Brain Smart Start consists of four activities: An activity to unite, an activity to connect, an activity to disengage stress and an activity to commit. Each of these activities is based on scientific research about optimal brain function and mind-body states. Together, these activities prime the brain for a day of optimal learning.
1. The activity to unite as a School Family involves everyone doing something together. It builds connection, fosters a sense of safety and releases endorphins.
2. The activity to disengage stress involves deep breathing and stretching. It prepares the brain for learning and turns off the stress response.
3. The activity to connect helps to maintain focused attention and the motivation to learn. It also releases oxytocin, which promotes bonding and reduces aggression.
4. The activity to commit oneself to learning involves affirmations and positive thinking. It produces serotonin, teaches responsibility, promotes mindful attention and develops the prefrontal lobes.
Theses activities can be combined. For example, a School Family chant involving music and movement with a partner would both unite and connect.
Chapter 8 of the Creating the School Family book contains specific activities to facilitate the Brain Smart Start, and the "Brain Smart Start Chart" on the Make-N-Take CD-Rom helps you to organize this structure. Several songs support the Brain Smart Start, including "Get Ready" and "Welcome" on It Starts in the Heart, "It's Brain Smart Time" on Kindness Counts, and "Greetings" on Brain Boogie Boosters.