“Hello, John! How’s your new baby sister?”, the principal says as he greets the student in the hallway. At the same time, the teacher tells the student at the door of the classroom, “Good morning, Priya. It is so nice to see you. I noticed that you were walking quietly and safely in the hall just the way you were told to.” A moment later, when Rohan begins to speak rudely to another child, the school counselor decisively and respectfully says, “Rohan, remember, use friendly words”.
What do you notice?
It is quite evident that the teachers and other staff of the school care about students and know that the students believe them. They see discipline as the most important factor that promotes positive behavior in children. The tone of safety and caring is set by the positive language of the school teachers—what they say and how they say it. QualityKG has designed various teacher training modules that help them understand how to deal with children in preschools, the kind of language that should be used with preschoolers. QualityKG helps to create a protecting and nurturing environment in preschools.
What exactly is this positive language?
In simple terms, positive language is the professional use of words and the tone of voice to enable students to learn in an engaged, active way. This includes learning various social skills. The choice of proper words and tone of voice by the preschool staff ensures that children choose and maintain positive behavior.
Using positive language with children takes time. You don’t have to do it in a day. Regular changes in your language will help children choose positive behaviors.
Here are some tips to start with:
1. Let children believe in themselves
If you want children to choose positive behaviors, you need to make sure that they see themselves as capable enough to do so. Teachers should use positive language to help children gain that confidence.
For instance, the principal says to the gathering, “When everyone is quiet, we will start with the school pledge”. The teacher asks the students to look at the board and remind themselves what they need to do when they finish their lunch. These words express the belief that children will cooperate, listen, and do what they are supposed to do. At the same time, it also gives them information about how to follow rules.
Our words convey our assumptions and expectations about children, which, in turn, influence their assumptions and expectations about themselves. Imagine Alia running through the corridor in the morning. She loves school so much that sometimes she forgets the rule that she is not supposed to run in the corridor. But today she remembers the rule. As she goes to her classroom, the teacher tells her, “Good morning, Alia! Glad to see you.It’s good that you remember to walk safely in the corridor.” This way of communication shows that teacher sees Alia’s responsible behavior and praises her. this is an indication of the belief that she can succeed. By using positive language to convey your belief in children’s abilities and intentions, you help them develop a positive identity for themselves.
2. Use direct language
Whether you are giving directions or explaining rules to children, noting positive behaviors, stopping misbehavior, or just having a discussion, it is very important to use clear and direct language. the language that is free from sarcasm. With the right language and tone along with your facial expressions and body posture, you can communicate serenity and respect. In this way, you will not judge children and will focus only on the positive behavior that you expect from them.
3. Reinforce positive behavior
Reinforcing language identifies and affirms students’ positive actions and encourages them to continue their positive behavior. For example, the teacher goes to the class during lunch time and says, “It’s good to see that you are engaging everyone. This makes lunchtime pleasant.” With these words, the teacher lets the children know that she noticed their positive behaviors. She also makes them realize that this positive behavior is beneficial for them.
The following tips will help you use the right language to highlight students strengths: their skills, their attitudes and so on.
- Mention concrete, specific behaviors – An art teacher says to a class, “Your drawings show that you clearly know what you want to learn about art this year. Your illustrations are so detailed.” instead of simply saying, “Beautiful work!” These words let the children know that what they are doing is doing successfully and so they should continue doing it.
- Use a warm tone – The teacher tells a preschooler, “Riya, I noticed that you invited Samatha into your game when you saw her standing alone. It is good that you remember the rule of including everyone!” This way the teacher shows Samantha that she takes her seriously and sees her as a capable and independent learner.
- Emphasize positive behavior – Focus on children’s positive behavior and what such behavior helps them to achieve. This motivates them more rather than focusing on whether you personally like or dislike the child’s behavior.
- Find positives – As a teacher look at the positives of each child and make sure to point them out and encourage them. For instance, tell the student that you focused during writing or you read very well in the morning. By pointing out their successes you will let them know what behaviors are working for them and they should keep practicing them.
Our words and tone of voice have a deep impact on children. By using right positive language with children all the time, we can boost confidence in them and help them learn new skills.