Learning to develop and maintain friendships is some of the most important work of early childhood. The strategies kids use to interact with others form the foundation for their future relationships. Children benefit from practice with these skills, along with reminders and acknowledgment of the times that they make great choices in those interactions. When those good choices are acknowledged and encouraged, we’re more likely to see them again.
Because of this, Carle Auditory Oral School hosts Friendship Circles with preschool through Primary classes. Friendship Circles are based on the concepts developed through Trust Based Relational Intervention with Dr. Karyn Purvis. The group time is supported by a social worker and deaf educators, to ensure that the concepts learned and practiced in the groups can be practiced throughout the day across learning environments.
The staff and students at CAOS focus on learning the updated school rules, outlined and described below.
Stick Together means a lot at our school. It means when one person is talking, we stick together by listening to them. When we’re playing, we don’t leave anyone out. When we move from one place to another within the school, we stick together too. And when we’re talking or learning about a topic, we stick together by staying on topic and engaging in the lesson. We use this one phrase to remind the students if they forget and to recognize the students when they remember to stick together.
No hurts also has multiple applications as well. It means that we don’t hurt each other’s bodies, or engage in activities that might hurt another person. It also means that we don’t say or do things that hurt each other’s feelings – we use kind words and are respectful when we interact with others. When we do hurt someone’s body or feelings we reach out to try to make it better.
Have fun is the most important one – and it works much better when we follow the first two rules. We design activities and take advantage of impromptu opportunities to have fun, to laugh together and share our experiences. We know that children learn best through play and hands on involvement with engaging activities – and that’s how they have fun too!
Here are other concepts explored during Friendship Circles and throughout the day during the school year:
We practice respect by asking permission before entering another person’s space, before taking something that belongs to someone else and before showing affection. We practice treating toys and other items with respect and talk about the consequences of what happens when we don’t
Re-do’s are about making sure our kids are practicing doing things the “right way” so that we can create muscle memory for doing things with respect. We’ll talk about re-do’s or doing it again with respect throughout the day and we get really excited each time someone does a re-do with respect.
We help kids learn the difference between asking and telling, as well as helping them sort out when telling is appropriate and when asking is a better strategy.
Accepting No –– We talk about how adults can’t always say yes when children ask for something or ask for choices or compromises, and that it’s important for children to respond with respect. In the Friendship Circle activities the children see and engage in activities where they hear a variety of “no” responses and practice accepting no with respect. Examples of “no” responses include:
That's really good asking, but this time I’d like for you to practice accepting no.” (Being proactive on getting the behaviors you would like to see.)
That’s is really good asking, but you may not have ____________ right now. You may have ______ while we’re packing up this afternoon.” (No now, but yes later.)
That’s really good asking, but the answer is no this time. Wow! That is really good accepting no!!” (Quickly compliment them on accepting no before they have a chance to respond.)
The children practice with their partners both giving and accepting no and receive lots of cheers and encouragement when they’re able to respond with respect. At times, the children:
Ask for a compromise, (“May I have a compromise, and have _____ after I _____?”)
Use self-talk (“Maybe next time.”) or
Just say “okay” and go back to their activity
CAOS approach to education is also individualized. Therefore, a number of different discipline options may be used depending on what works best for any specific child. Due to the fact that our program focuses on early developmental levels, a broad approach to discipline is necessary.
Additionally, teachers will identify strategies that are most effective for the children in their classrooms. Positive Discipline Approaches include:
Developmental approaches - Pick strategies that are appropriate to the developmental level at which the students are functioning at.
Choices - When possible, allowing students the opportunity to choose between a variety of positive discipline choices.
Positive rewards - Using positive statements of affirmation, positive assessments of peer behaviors, positive praise, and tangible rewards when needed.
Natural consequences - When a child makes an inappropriate choice for school, if there is a natural consequence no further discipline is needed; in addition, the choice for discipline will reflect the most natural consequence appropriate for that choice.
Time away - A student may be removed from an activity for a short time (one minute for each year of their age) to gain control of emotions, given an opportunity to change their choice to a more appropriate one, or to think about a way to solve a problem. They will be asked if they’re ready to return. A child will not return unless they’re ready.