Leading preschoolers towards success

Last week, after our final rehearsal for the spring show the children wanted to speak on my real microphone. I happen to have come from my news segment at Fox 59 earlier that morning and so I played news anchor and interviewed the children….

The interview went something like this…

Me:      “Good morning, this is Deborah from Fox 59 Morning News and today I am interviewing the children from Learning Time and they each have some special information to share with you. Sammy can you tell us what the weather is like today?”

Sammy:    “It is sunny.”

Me:      “And Amanda, can you tell us what we should wear when it is sunny?”

Amanda:   “Shorts.”

Me:    “And Luke, can you tell us what your favorite color is?”

Luke:    “Blue.”

And the interview went on like this until everyone (20+ kids) had their chance to speak into the live microphone. Needless to say, the children were quite excited to talk on the microphone and towards the end, I had them all answer my questions at the same time.  “What color is an apple?” –  “Red!” they all would shout…

The quiet mic…

Sitting on my stand was this dry erase marker (shown above) and after getting the children all worked up, I now needed to calm them down. One of the children asked me what that thing was on my stand. I realized that it kind of looked like a microphone so I told the children it was a “quiet mic.”

Everyone wanted to now talk in the quiet mic but I told them that the only way they could talk in my very special quiet mic is if they got close to me so we could hear. So we started again only this time I whispered my questions and each child answered back with a whisper then I whispered that they now needed to walk quietly to the door and get in line. It was time for the children to go to their next classroom. It worked like a charm…

When working with preschoolers, you will find opportunities or funny ways to capture their attention but you have to be willing to have fun, be an actor, be a clown, be a baby, or be something other than the expected. You have to be willing to play.

Not fun…

I went to the grocery store yesterday and there were two little boys (twins) that looked about age 3 walking with their parents. I say walking but they were actually scrambling all over the place. The parents clearly looked frustrated and the children were getting the best of both of them.  In the end, the father very sternly picked up one of the boys and put him in the cart so they could make their way through the store. Both little boys waled with loud cries all the way through the rest of the store. I wondered if the parents of these two boys were to make the grocery store an adventure and turn it into something playful and fun – would the trip to the store be less painful?

Pushing a string…

Sometimes in the classroom, we are tired and we don’t want to have to be an actor or a clown. We just want the children to do as they are told “because we said so”. I call this pushing a string. The harder you push a string, the more it just starts to bundle up and go no where.  As a teacher, you have to lead your students not push them.  You have to find ways to capture their attention and then lead them to where you want them to go. You have to think on your toes and be willing to set aside the “because you said so” mentality and instead realize that if you will lead your children (not push them) towards success – everyone will reap the reward. You will feel less stressed and so will your kids.

Leading instead of pushing…

So how do you lead your students? That is what the quiet mic story is all about. I could have yelled across the room and told the children that they had to go to the door and line up but chances are I would have had a battle on my hands. Yelling is pushing.  Instead I led them though play, by making it fun, by being creative, by thinking ahead.  I am not suggesting that everyone should run out and buy a “quiet mic” but you can certainly give it a try. Instead, I am suggesting that you use opportunities and things in your teaching environment to lead your preschoolers towards success. I am suggesting that you think ahead and be willing to have “smart” fun with your preschoolers and in the process, lead them towards what you need them to do.

A little something extra

This is a nice post about a magic microphone!

By |2011-06-08T02:05:36+00:00June 8th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Scott June 8, 2011 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Exactly right, Deborah! I like the image of pushing a string – a great description of what happens when you use that more forceful approach.

    A related idea from a teacher friend: She went to a conference and heard about “Cranky Cream.” It’s just any purchased lotion with the label changed to Cranky Cream. Whenever a child seemed cranky or irritated about what was happening, the teacher would say something like: “You may be feeling a little cranky.” Then she would give the child a squirt of Cranky Cream to rub on his hands and make things better. It is reported to really work! (She also had Pouty Powder.) I haven’t used this yet but I think I am next year.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 8, 2011 at 9:51 am - Reply

      Oh how cute – that is a great example of looking for a creative way to get children out of a bad mood:) It is hard to keep your own positivity when the children are cranky!

  2. Lovely article. So often we see this in the grocery or large stores….children wailing…I often find myself drawn to the area…to see why this happens…often wonder how we can get so angry and upset that we wander the aisles with babies so upset.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 8, 2011 at 9:49 am - Reply

      I think as a parent in the grocery store, there is a sense that you just want to get something done so you can get back home to let the children play. But in the classroom, we have to use a different approach. We have to figure out how to successfully integrate children into the process. I don’t think I explained that very well in this article:)

  3. Paige June 8, 2011 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Love the “pushing a string” comparison!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 8, 2011 at 10:55 am - Reply

      My father used to say this to me when I was working very hard and not getting much done – “looks like you are just pushing a string!”

  4. Candy Lawrence June 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    LOVE this post.

    It made me think of a carer in a centre where I worked as a casual who was pushing the string big-time, shouting at some 4-yr-old boys wearing superhero capes to stop running and clean up the room… so I made a megaphone with my hands and announced ‘All Superheroes, fly to the mat immediately! Calling all Superheroes! Fly to the mat now!’ Had them all there in a matter of seconds… and then I told them there was an emergency in home corner… all the dress-ups HAD to go back in the box before outside play- Superheroes are helpers, right? Could they help?

    Job done in one minute flat!

    Yes, it’s a performance- you have to act, play, capture imagination…

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 9, 2011 at 12:45 am - Reply

      Hahahaha! I love it!

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