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Parent Handbook ~ Program & Philosophy
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Parent Handbook ~ Program & Philosophy » Philosophy of Positive Guidance

Positive Guidance Philosophy of Positive Guidance

At Creek we feel that the ultimate goal of guidance is to develop self-discipline.  It is our belief that discipline handled in a way that respects the dignity and the will of the child and fosters self-concept has a good chance of becoming internalized by the child.  This philosophy suggests that cooperation is preferable to blind obedience because the child has input; the child participates.  The child does something because it makes sense, because it is needed and not because the teacher has told him/her to do it.

Methods of Positive Guidance

1.    Environment – The environment at Creek is set up to accommodate the needs of children.  It is our belief that where most needs are met most of the time, the child will feel secure enough to be able to cooperate when requested.  We provide an environment which is developmentally appropriate for each child: one which is challenging without being too frustrating.  Children are encouraged to make choices according to their interests.  Children who are actively involved are much less likely to engage in disruptive behavior.  We also feel that boundaries are an important factor in producing an environment in which the child will feel secure.  An environment where limits are inconsistently or not enforced at all is frightening to a child.

2.    Staff – The teaching staff at Creek is skilled in helping guide children.  They serve as role-models for appropriate behavior, set expectations which children can handle and are there to provide support.  A nurturing staff is key on promoting an environment where children feel free to try new things because they know that help is there if things don’t go as planned.  The staff is aware that each incident creates an opportunity to develop problem-solving skills.  Disagreement provides practice in verbal skills, conflict resolution, recognition of and empathy for the needs of others.

3.    Redirection – This is a guidance technique in which the adult suggests an alternative choice in order to avoid conflict.  This method is particularly effective with the very young children, who have not yet developed reasoning skills.

4.    Praise – Children need to know when they are doing something good.  The teachers provide positive reinforcement through the use of hugs, smiles and verbal encouragement to children throughout the day.  We really focus on the positive aspects of each child’s behavior.

5.    Time-Out – The purpose of a time-out is to allow children some time and space to regain control of their behavior.  If a child is out of control and not able to make acceptable choices, the child will be removed from the group until he/she is able to be cooperative.  Any violence or aggression is not acceptable behavior and needs immediate attention.  If a child exhibits these behaviors or is likely to cause harm the child will be moved away from others until self-control is restored.  The teacher will then discuss the situation with the child.  It is important that the child understand the problem: what caused it, why the behavior was unacceptable and how the behavior needs to be changed to prevent future problems from occurring.  A time-out is not viewed as a punishment and is not a guidance technique used for children under the age of 3.

Only the Creek teaching staff will be allowed to discipline.  Other persons should bring a situation or incident to the attention of a teacher who will deal with it.

Prohibited punishments shall include all punishment which is humiliating or frightening to a child, such as, but not limited to the following:

1.    Spanking, hitting, pinching, shaking or inflicting any other form of corporal punishment.
2.    Verbal abuse, threats, or derogatory remarks about child or family.
3.    Binding or tying to restrict movement or enclosing in a confined space such as a closet, locked room, box or small cubicle.
4.    Withholding or forcing meals, snacks or naps.
5.    Punishments for lapses in toilet training.

We encourage each parent to talk with their child about the day.  We also encourage each parent to check in with the teacher about the day’s events.  Regarding discipline, it is helpful to us if the parents and teachers are working together to consistently respect the rules.  

Where rules are different than at home, we hope the parent will help the child understand that group situations sometimes call for different rules.  We also ask you to keep the staff informed of any behavior changed you may notice at home, and how you are dealing with them.  Consistency is very important in the learning process.  We need to work together with you to guide your child in the same direction.

First let’s dispense with what doesn’t work.  Under this category would fall: intimidation, threats, punishment and any form of character attack (e.g. labeling a child negatively).  Examples: “You are naughty, careless, clumsy, messy, rude, etc.  These methods might work initially, but chances are they will eventually backfire because they make the child feel bad.  Rarely will a child who feels bad also feel cooperative.  Since it is cooperation we seek, we work against ourselves when we make a child feel awful.  A cooperative child is not the same as a compliant child.  A cooperative child exercises the will, which a compliant child suppresses it.

There are a number of techniques that we have found helpful and effective.  The best of these methods encourage children to think for themselves.  This allows the children the opportunity to participate which gives them a sense of responsibility.

There are many ways of asking a child to do something.  These ways can be examined in light of two criteria: (1) whether they further our goals of respecting a child’s dignity and encouraging a healthy self-concept, and (2) whether they work.  Fortunately, the methods that work best usually further our long term goals.  For instance, consider the situation where a child leaves her boots in the middle of the hall.  Which of the following responses allow the child participation in terms of figuring out what needs to be done?  Which attack the child’s character or personality?  In which might the child feel good about complying?  In which might the child feel defiant, humiliated, resentful, etc.?

1.    “I see red boots in the middle of the hallway.” (a description)
2.    “I expect boots to be put in your cubby when you take them off.” (stating an expectation)
3.    “Boots belong in your cubby.”  (giving information)
4.    “It would be helpful if you would put your boots in your cubby.” (pointing out a way to be helpful)
5.    “Sally, the boots.” (Sally thinks: “What about the boots?  Oh, they go in my cubby.”)
6.    “I get irritated when your boots are left out.” (description of your feelings.  It is ok to let children know that you are upset.  There is no attack, just an identification of your feelings.)“Who forgot to put their boots away?”
7.    “I told you 3 times to put your boots away, how many times do I need to tell you?  Can’t you remember anything?”
8.    “You better put those boots away right now!”

Emotions are great moving causes in behavior.  They can be found at the root of actions that we would consider both positive as well as negative.  We feel that the ability to recognize, accept and express emotions is part of a healthy self-image.  We encourage the expression of emotions in acceptable ways: “It’s ok to be angry, it’s not ok to hit.”  We also avoid denying any emotion; all emotions are valid.  Children cry, they get mad and sad, lonely and tired.  They need to learn how to handle their emotions in a productive manner, not deny them.

Responsibility is a key word.  Children can learn responsibility by experiencing the consequences of their behavior.  This is more effective than lecturing, yelling or moralizing a child.  If a child fails to put away his toys after an appropriate request, perhaps the toys need to be put away until the child can demonstrate he is able to take care of his possessions.  This is not a punishment, it is a logical consequence of the behavior (children who don’t put their toys away won’t have any toys left to play with).

Another way to encourage a child’s participation is to offer a choice.  “You can pick up your toys by yourself, or I can help you.  Do you want me to help?”  It is important to realize when a choice is being offered and to accept the child’s decision.  For example, “Put your toys away, ok?” is a choice providing an option of refusal.  To then deny the choice, “I said put your toys away” confuses and frustrates the child.

Children often test limits as part of their growth.  It is important to provide them with the security of consistency.  Imagine the scenario where David has been smashing the legos together.  He knows that smashing them can break them.  He is given a choice:  “You can handle the legos more gently or you will need to find another activity.  You decide.”  David continues to smash legos.  “David, I see that you will need to choose something else.”  David says: “Oh, I forgot.  I won’t smash them together anymore.  Please give me one more chance.”  There are two options:

1.    You follow through with your directions to have David find another activity.

2.    You give David one more chance.

Which option will encourage David to behave more responsibly in the future?  Which response might confuse David?  Which one allowed David to manipulate the adult?  Which one increases the likelihood that David will continue to manipulate others in the future?

Helping children learn to make good choices is a day-by-day, year-by-year process.  With the proper guidance and support, each child can become a caring, responsible and self-confident person.

Creek Day School
2509 Mcdivitt Rd
Madison, WI 53713
(608) 271-1921