As the school year begins, we would like to share ideas that can be used in the classroom.
Our therapists work on classroom skills with clients before they transition into a school setting. Two Board Certified Behavior Analysts at Cornerstone Autism Center share tips that we recommend trying with classroom kids.
1. “It’s so easy to focus on the negative when we get caught up in our day to day routines. Giving behavior specific praise on a routine basis can go a long way with your student! ‘I love how you are sitting quietly in your seat!’, ‘Nice job waiting your turn at the pencil sharpener!’, and ‘Thank you for following directions the first time you were asked!’ are just a few examples of behavior specific praise that you can use.” – Stephanie Dille-Huggins, MA, BCBA
2. “Keep in mind that all behavior has a purpose and that behaviors don’t just happen for no reason. Some children want to gain access to an object or get the attention of their teacher so it is important to figure out the function or the reason why the behavior is happening. Once the ABC’s (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence) of behavior are evaluated and the function of the behavior is determined, an appropriate intervention can be developed to help either improve or reduce the behavior.” – Holly Barszcz, MA, BCBA
3. “Use your understanding of the terms reinforcement and consequences, and work towards effectively delivering them in your classroom! Everyone receives reinforcement and consequences as they make their way throughout their day and interact with people and the environment. Both children and adults will go to great lengths to make contact with something they enjoy and work towards avoiding the things that are unpleasant. When in the classroom, give your attention to the behaviors that you want to increase or strengthen (i.e. sitting quietly, waiting for a turn, raising their hand) and ignore, redirect, or provide a consequence for the behaviors you want to decrease (i.e. throwing pencils, ripping up paper, yelling out in class). Sometimes it may be hard to ignore some behaviors but it is important to know that attention to these behaviors acts as reinforcement for children. For some children, just the removal of the teacher’s attention alone may be enough to decrease a behavior!” – Holly Barszcz, MA, BCBA
4. “Say what you mean and mean what you say. Do not say things that you are not prepared to enforce if you have to. If you say to a child, ‘We are not leaving this table until you have completed your work,’ then you will need to be prepared to enforce what you have said. If you do not have the time or the capability to sit with the child until the work is completed, then choose something different to say to that child. The child can choose to ignore you and you could still be sitting at the same table the entire day! A more appropriate thing to say would be, “Once you have completed your work, we can read a book together” as long as you are able to read a book with the child once they have completed their work. Therefore, if the child never completes their work, you can remove them from the table and move on to something else.” – Holly Barszcz, MA, BCBA
September 12, 2016, Morgan McClellan