respect,  responsibility,  social emotional,  social emotional skills,  Social skills

Teaching Children to Respect Materials and Belongings

Accidents happen in the preschool classroom all day long – preschoolers just aren’t very coordinated. But we can reduce some of those accidents if we teach our students to treat classroom materials with care and respect.

First and foremost, children have to see their teachers modeling how to treat materials with respect.  When children see us helping with clean up time, they are more likely to participate.  When you return materials to the correct location, the children will start to do this too.  Children pick up on your cues and begin to internalize them as expectations.

Another great strategy to use when teaching children to respect materials is self-talk.  This is where you verbalize what you are doing, as you are doing it.  For example, if you say “I’m going to pick up all of these blocks so that no one steps on them” as you pick the blocks up off the floor, then you are practicing self-talk.  This strategy not only helps call attention to the behaviors that you want children to notice, but it also gives children the vocabulary to understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.

I’m also a huge fan of simple discussion.  It never hurts to talk about caring for our things, and discussing the possible consequences if we do not take proper care of our materials.  I love to ask the children what they think could happen if __________.  For example, “What might happen if you leave the lids off the markers.” Preschoolers are pretty good at coming up with the natural consequence, but they are also really good at coming up with a creative story that may or may not be related to your original discussion. I love to see where there head is at, and how they process the question. It can give you a lot of information about how effective your conversation will be!

How do you teach respect for your classroom materials? I’d love to hear your strategies!

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