PBS for a Happy New Year


With the busy holidays behind us, many of us are anxious to get back on schedule. Consistency in your expectations of your child at home as well as at school can be a comfort to your child.  If your child can serve himself at the table at school, they can probably do the same at home. Talk to your child’s teacher to find out what things your child is doing independently. You may be surprised at all they can do at home as well! Children learning self- reliance in a supporting environment makes for a happier classroom or home, and a more confident and competent child.  Remember to give Specific Positive Feedback when they do “wow” you with what they’ve done.  Happy New Year!

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A Positive Experience



We are in the middle of a season when many of us are taking stock in all the good in our lives, counting blessings, or giving thanks.  This holiday season reminds us each year to look around at all the positives in our lives.  In other words, we count how many guests will make it for dinner, not those not coming.

Sometimes, as a parent, it is too easy to get wrapped up in busy schedules, expectations not being met, and messes being made (and not cleaned up.)  Take a moment (take EVERY moment) in the coming weeks to bask in the wonder of being a parent.  Take a deep breath from atop your baby’s head, close your eyes and mentally record your preschoolers laugh, or pause to note the size of the handprints you are scrubbing off the walls.

We cherish the opportunity to be a part of those moments too.  From our hearts to yours, Happy Holidays!

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Make Expectations Clear and Consistent



It is important to discuss expectations with our children so they are clear on what behaviors we want to see. Some things will be the same (we will use safe hands,) and others will be specific to the occasion (we can roll down the hill at the park if we take turns.) We are entering a time of year when many of us will be travelling to friends’ and relatives’ homes for parties and special meals. With a less familiar environment you may want to remind your children of the expectations. Have these discussions before the occasion arises and also give them precorrects as needed. For example, as children are finishing their meal, “Yes, you may be excused. Remember what we talked about: Use a quiet, inside voice while you are playing.” Enjoy your children and safe travels!

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Key Differences of Conscious Discipline and Traditional Discipline



Becky Baily, the developer of Conscious Discipline, outlines the key differences between what many of us grew up with (Traditional Discipline), and the strategies we aim to implement (Conscious Discipline) in three parts. Traditionally, adults tried to make others change by prescribing the right punishment or withholding something desired. Conscious Discipline on the other hand, realizes the individual will need to change themselves due to an internal process driven by how we interact with them. Secondly, we may have been brought up believing rules and consequences govern behavior, while those studying Conscious Discipline come to realize relationships govern behavior. For example, I want to solve conflict with family members because I love them so much. Lastly, Conscious Discipline recognizes that conflict doesn’t have to be bad, but it does need to be productive. It is an opportunity for growth and for us as parents and teachers to show children how to reflect on their choices internally, rather than us choosing the right consequence.

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How P.B.I.S. works


We are entering into our tenth year implementing Positive Behavior Interventions and Support in our classrooms. We like to share monthly tidbits so you can have a better understanding of how P.B.I.S. works at school as well as how you can adapt it to behaviors at home. Maintaining consistency between home and school will enhance each child’s understanding of appropriate behavior. One of the easiest and most effective strategies we use is called the “pre-correct.” Simply stated, you correct an anticipated misbehavior by stating your expectations before the behavior occurs. For example, “I will read one book and then I will kiss you good night and turn out the light.” By telling the children what you expect them to do, you can avoid a great deal of negatives. (no, don’t, stop, etc.) Next month I will be sharing the core differences between “traditional discipline” and Conscious Discipline. These strategies and others were covered during our day–long staff training on Saturday, September 12th.


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Expectations in New Settings



Whether planning a vacation, business trip, or a night on the town (remember those?), we as adults like to have a basic idea of what to expect.  We feel a little more at ease knowing what things we’ll be doing or attending, what time we need to be somewhere, and with whom we’ll be meeting.  Children also need to know what to expect.  Some children may feel a great deal of anxiety about a change in surroundings.  While children are very resilient and are amazingly fast learners, they may not be able to communicate what part of the change or new experience is making them feel uneasy.  It is important for us here at school and families at home to talk about what children can expect when they are starting a new class, taking a vacation and staying in a hotel, or moving to a new home.  As a fair number of our students will be changing classrooms in August, or starting a new grade outside of the Academy, it is important that we communicate our expectations and prime them for what things they can expect.  Enjoy your children!


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S.T.A.R. Power




The Academy of Early Childhood Learning has dedicated several hours to paid staff trainings so that our teachers can better understand and implement some of the findings and teachings of Dr. Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline program.  We’ve referenced the book I Love You Rituals previously.  In June, Dr. Bailey had this to share on the Conscious Discipline Facebook page:



As parents and teachers, we are constantly modeling for our children what to do and how to behave. What we do is much more influential than what we say. So what kind of model are you? How are you strutting your stuff on the catwalk of life? Are you modeling your S.T.A.R. Power?

(Smile, Take a deep breath And Relax)

Modeling Anger & Frustration
Anger and frustration are motivating energies that deliver the message of change. They ask you to clearly define what you want instead of what you don’t want. To do this, you must first calm yourself and turn off the fight or flight response in your body.

The antidote to anger and frustration is breathing and calming. Then, you will be ready to respectfully share your feelings.

Here are ways to express anger and frustration like a Super S.T.A.R. Model:

– I feel angry. I am going to calm myself down and then I will talk with you.

– I don’t like it when you talk when I am talking. Please wait until I have finished my sentence.

– I feel frustrated. I was hoping we could talk through this calmly.

As always, we wish you well!



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The Function of Child Behavior

Many of you have just conferenced with your child’s teacher and have seen the component within that is a behavioral checklist.  This serves as an assessment of the behaviors we see at Academy and may help parents and teachers discuss the cause or function of the behavior.  Once the underlying issue is identified, we can better address the undesired outcomes.  Young children can often act out of control because that is exactly how they’re feeling.  As an example, if a 2 year old boy swings his hand at peers when they are nearing the center where he is playing, we need to help him to identify his feeling of worry.  Worry that someone will knock down his tower or perhaps that there aren’t enough of that toy to share.  We can then provide him with the tools he needs to resolve this conflict.  We show children how to share, take turns, or sign the word stop.  We may even change the center to include more of that item.  Some children, even older children, after identifying the emotion may have a hard time carrying out the desired behavior “in the moment.”  It is important for us to teach replacement behaviors that are realistic.  If a child gets crying mad and frustrated over someone not following the rules we can’t expect them to automatically have a calm conversation about fair game play.  That child may need to be taught it is okay to walk away and get a drink at the water fountain in order to cool off.  If we all examine these behaviors as objectively as possible, it can help us approach them as teachable moments and also will serve to preserve our relationships with the child.  (They really didn’t do it just to make you mad!)

Enjoy your children!

Jordan Sicht

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We see the effects all around us of adults that haven’t learned self-control, the ability to follow rules and understand limits. Developing self-control begins at birth and continues throughout adulthood.  Children learn self-control through group play and from guidance given from parents and other loving adults.

In order to help toddlers cope with limits we need to provide guidance and intervene when appropriate. Things we can do:

  • Stop the behavior. Firmly, but not angrily, tell the child, “No hitting, hitting hurts.”
  • Label the emotion. We need to feel understood. “You are angry that he took your toy.  It’s okay to be angry, but we do not pinch our friends.  Pinching hurts.”
  • Offer an appropriate “Can Do,” like jumping up and down or stomping feet. A favorite of mine is the sign for “Stop” as it can be expressed emphatically.
  • Help the child solve their problem. Go to the friend together and ask for the toy back.  Or, give them livable choices: “Do you want to play music while we clean up the toys?”
  • Be a role model for handling frustration. “I’m feeling frustrated that I can’t find my phone and we’re running late.  I’m going to take a deep breath before we look for it.”
  • Create a safe space in your home. This is a positive and soothing place to go when you need a break, not a time-out punishment.

For more information like this on child development, including other ideas for social-emotional development, go to Zero to Three, National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families at

Jordan Sicht

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Act Naturally

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

-Sir Rannulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest explorer.

April 22nd marks the 46th Earth Day celebrated in the United States.  The concept was introduced to raise awareness for the many troubling environmental threats that Americans had been largely ignoring. At Academy of Early Childhood Learning, we would like to use it as a day to bring to light the importance of nature in children’s lives.  50 years ago, families and educators could take for granted that young children would spend time outdoors (Clements 2004).  Many present day children, with growing interest in technology, have the world at their fingertips through Google and Wikipedia yet have never peered closely into a newly bloomed bud or watched tiny ants empty a beetle’s exoskeleton.  Tomorrow’s stewards of this incredible natural wonderland are in our classrooms today and are open to deepening their connection with nature(Rivkin 2014).  There are many psychological, sociological and physical benefits outlined in the book, The Great Outdoors.

-Jordan Sicht

Mary S. Rivkin, The Great Outdoors

Clements, R., “An Investigation of the State of Outdoor Play.” Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood

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