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A Simple Approach to Knowing the WAC’s:  Behavior Management Policies

Creating the Environment

Much of behavior management and guidance happens behind the scenes. It is what the caregiver does before the children arrive to create an environment that promotes positive behavior.

What is placed in an area and how it is arranged often determine the atmosphere for promoting social, emotional, intellectual, and physical growth. It also determines the behaviors, positive and negative, that happen in that space.

The following checklist can help you create an environment that promotes children’s positive behavior in your center:

  • The classroom has a variety of learning and activity centers to encourage  choice and independence
  • Age-appropriate materials and toys are displayed on low, open shelves allowing children to get the toys and put them away by themselves
  • There are enough materials and toys available so that children can choose what they want to play with and have the ability to play with them for long periods of time. This will decrease children’s fighting over toys
  • Learning and activity centers are set up for several children (up to 4 or 5) to play together. This allows them to cooperate, share, and problem-solve together
  • There are small, quiet, private areas (within full adult supervision) so that children can be alone or play with just one or two other children
  • The room is uncrowded and has space for children to work and play at the tables and on the floor.
  • Congestion is avoided and children can move about and explore
  • Centers and activity areas are well defined and placed so activities are not interrupted. Children know what to do in each area. Toys and equipment generally remain in their designated areas
  • Low dividers are used to separate areas so that caregivers can easily observe the children and supervise their activities
  • Individual cubbies are available so that children can be responsible for their own belongings
  • Placement of furniture discourages rough play or running

Modify the environment throughout the day to meet the emerging needs of children in your care. You can add props to the dramatic play or playground areas to promote social interaction or broaden play that is already in progress. If the children are too rough or noisy in a given area, you can rearrange the area to limit the number of children or another activity can be introduced into that area. Modifying the environment is the first step to help children behave appropriately.


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