May 21, 2009 - 10:05 PM
By KIMBERLY A. CAMPBELL
For The Telegraph
GODFREY - Children at the Early Childhood Learning Center know how to "be kind" and "be safe."
They gather on the playground to cool off and take a student body photo. The children demonstrate good behavior, not just because they get rewarded - although a little incentive never hurt anybody.
The Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies is a district-wide program that recently was adopted at the Early Childhood Learning Center.
The program emphasizes the interaction of parents, students and educators to correct and improve the systems, data, practices and outcomes of a child's education.
Early Childhood is the first preschool in the state to implement the program.
The focus of PBIS is assisting schools in developing structures for teaching expected behaviors and social skills. It creates student behavioral and academic support systems, and applies data-based decision-making to discipline, academics and social/emotional learning at the school, district and state levels.
"The program works well because it is school-wide," said Early Childhood's social worker, Angie Payne. "Every faculty member - from custodian to secretary to librarian - they all work to ensure that kids have a consistently positive educational environment."
Some of the proactive interventions that take place are the reduction of reactive disciplinary measures (detentions, suspensions, expulsions, etc.), and evaluating the success across home, school and the community.
"We see a lot of our efforts being carried over into families of the students," Payne said. "Parents used to come to me and say, ‘My child is bad.' Now, the parents can recognize that kids aren't simply classified as good or bad; it's the choices they had been making."
PBIS combines supportive staff behavior, along with supportive student behavior, to result in supportive decision-making and social competence and academic achievement.
"We look for ways to be positive. We never tell them ‘no' or ‘don't,'" Payne said. "Instead, we give children the right to make their own choices. They are in control of their own behavior."
Early Childhood does group and individual interventions. PBIS has sent four representatives to help train the faculty at Early Childhood.
"Of course, we reward the kids for positive behavior," Principal Jill Hardimon said. "If a student is still having trouble learning, we look for ways to help them out."
Students who have trouble sitting still are allowed to sit in a taped-off "standing area." Students who have difficulties writing the alphabet can use their fingers on a tabletop smeared with shaving cream.
"Whether the trouble is behavioral, academic or even family-oriented, the goal is to help children to be successful at school and to help avoid difficulties at a higher education level," Hardimon said.