Early childhood program promotes positive behavior

With funding from the United Way of Central Missouri, the agency’s Early Childhood Advisory Committee is working to implement an Early Childhood Positive Behavior Support model at Jefferson City day cares and child care facilities.

“It’s a curriculum that helps both the children and teachers,” said Joanne Nelson, director of Child Care Aware of Missouri’s Central Region. “It’s how to help children deal with social and emotional issues, cognitively. For example, if you’re frustrated, how do you handle that?”

Child Care Aware of Missouri is providing the Positive Behavior Support training for the United Way.

Nicole Langston, principal of the Southwest Early Childhood Center, said her school has already implemented the model, as well as public elementary schools and some parochial schools in Jefferson City.

“We have all at-risk students, and we knew if we didn’t get emotional things under control, we couldn’t provide an education,” said Langston, who is also on the Early Childhood Advisory Committee.

This week, April 6-12, the United Way of Central Missouri is celebrating Week of the Young Child with a variety of events. Nelson said the week presents a great time to recognize how hard the teachers work to implement the Positive Behavior Support model for the benefit of young children.

The program teaches children three things: be safe, be kind and make good choices.

“The whole theory behind that is rather than telling students what not to do, we focus on our preferred behaviors, what we want to see them do,” Langston said. “It’s more positive than saying, ‘No. Don’t. Stop that.’”

She said the underlying theme of Positive Behavior Support is teaching behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum.

“We want to teach them how to go down the slide instead of walking up it, or how to carry a tray through the lunch line,” Langston said. “Those are the things that could hold them back in elementary school if they’re goofing off and things like that.”

She said for every area in the Southwest Early Childhood Center, teachers show kids what positive behavior looks like.

“For example, in the cafeteria, what does it look like to be kind in the cafeteria? Well, you say ‘Thank you’ when you get your tray,” Langston said. “What does it look like to be safe? Well, you have to hold your tray up, you have to use both hands, you have to walk. What does it look like to make a good choice? Well, a good choice is to sit on your bottom and eat your food.”

She said that sometimes it’s difficult to tell 3- and 4-year-olds something. You have to show them.

She and Nelson said learning the Positive Behavior Support model in early childhood will make the transition to elementary school smoother.

“When they go to kindergarten, they won’t have a whole new thing to learn,” Nelson said. “The model sets expectations of the children, as well as the teachers.”

The United Way has allotted the Early Childhood Advisory Committee $5,000 for the first year of training for Positive Behavior Support. Langston said the committee plans to ask for $5,000-6,000 every year of the 3-year project.

Week of the Young Child events:

• Monday, 9:30 a.m., Born Learning Trail at Memorial Park; ribbon cutting to kick off the Week of the Young Child.

• Tuesday, 9:30-11:30 a.m., field day at the Southwest Early Childhood Center; RSVP to Sasha at 659-3026.

• Wednesday, 9:30-10:30 a.m., story time at Lincoln University’s Page Library; RSVP to Ann Roberts at 681-5504.

• Wednesday, 10-10:30 a.m., story time at Southwest Early Childhood Center; RSVP to Sasha at 659-3026.

• Thursday, 6 p.m., appreciation banquet for childcare professionals at the YMCA annex; doors open at 6 p.m., and tickets are $5. Prior registration is required. Call Theresa at 636-4100 for registration form.

• Friday, incorporate the Character Plus trait accountable in activities at home or at your childcare center.

• Saturday, 9:30-11:30 a.m., kids carnival at Riverside Park

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