As a preschool teacher with 20+ years. I have seen it all. Things that work for one class of students or most children wont work for all.
Identify the problem times of the day, are they just sitting waitting to much like at lunch or during and art activity. Children get bored VERY quickly and then they roll on the floor, chase each other and more. They need something to do while waiting books are a great tool but rotate them and use things like catalogs on day, books another, animal books another, or puzzles and cards too
Depending on the times of the day that you are having problems they can be solved in a variety of ways.
Having children help with as much as possible, be prepared have all supplies ready before you sit down or do your projects in small groups with a rotation of other activities while they are waiting (if you have 12 kids and not assistant than have 4 do the art project, 4 doing puzzles, 4 at playdough or any different activities then rotate all at the same time)
If it is afternoon time and they are just running around wild than I suggest assisning areas. Make a list of area blocks, floor toys, art/coloring, housekeeping, etc..what ever you room offers) and also have special toys that are only brought out then (I had decks of cards, scrabble letters, special games and lots of things) than gather everyone together (when first learning this method I invested in a bag of M-n-M's) they children pick an area and have to stay there until the timer goes off than everyone cleans up and gathers in a circle again to pick new areas. The M-n-M's are the reward for coming together and quickly and sitting nicely waiting. You will have to sit with them!
The 3 year group I was in charge of learned this quickly and it gave everyone a chance to play in all areas rather than boys hogging the legos and workbench and girls housekeeping or library. This works with all age groups. I now use areas in my school age room so that they use different areas of the room.
To get their attention try clapping. Say, clap once, then clap twice and so on until they're all listening. Give them planty of variety with the toys and let them go out in a fenced area with their toys for about 30 min, you'd be surpirsed how tired they get after a little running around! Good luck!
Follow a routine everyday, kids thrive on consistency. Post a picture board about it and always let them know what's coming next - first this, then this. Make activities fun and interesting, a bit of a challenge. Do your best to make transitions smooth - see if they can get the room cleaned up before a song is over, play "magic scrap" pick a certain toy and whoever picks that one up gets a prize, etc. Sing a lot of songs with actions and use them if you are all waiting for something or just need to regroup. Divide the room into centers that don't allow room to run - make time to run and play outside or in a gym area a few times a day. Are you looking for anything more specific? IM me.
Good Luck! :)
Keep your instructions simple and be prepared to repeat. Give timed countdowns for things. In 5 minutes we will... In 3 minutes we will... and so on. It's less of a shock. Set up competitions for things like walking around the school - who can get there the quietest? Who can be the politest? Who can think of the nicest thing to say to their friend? Use a simple visual system like a sunshine and rain cloud. Make pegs with children's names. CHildren who are behaving well go on the sunshine. Children who are behaving badly move along a string in the middle. If they reach the cloud then parents are told. If they stay on the sunshine they get a reward (5 minutes with a favourite toy or a sticker etc.) Above all, be very positive and notice even the little things that children do well.
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