When you think of PBIS, chances are you envision children from the elementary level and above learning positive behaviors through this program. But is it possible to successfully use PBIS with preschoolers?
That’s the question the PBIS Rewards team had when a preschool in Georgia signed up to use PBIS Rewards. Would children in pre-K respond to a program typically used for older students?
DAFFODIL Preschool is a full-time preschool center located in Ware County, Georgia, that serves as a model for kindergarten programs throughout the state. The name DAFFODIL is actually an acronym: Diversified Agencies Feeling Fine Over Developing Infant Linkages. DAFFODIL’s principal, Dr. Linda Houseal, has worked to build the school into a powerful force for its students and families, and the school has been recognized for excellence by former Governor Zell Miller and termed a “model site” by former First Lady Rosalyn Carter.
DAFFODIL Preschool works with more than 300 families to prepare preschool-aged children for a successful educational experience. Many of DAFFODIL’s students are from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the school works with their families to improve their functioning capacity by helping them to lessen their dependence on public assistance while also increasing their commitment and involvement in their child’s education. In addition to their certified teaching staff, DAFFODIL’s classrooms each include a licensed paraprofessional, and a team consisting of a school nurse, a social worker, a special education coordinator, a psychologist, and a speech therapist provides assistance to those students who need a little extra help.
Implementing PBIS at DAFFODIL
When Dr. Houseal approached the PBIS Rewards team at a PBIS conference over the summer and asked about using our program for her preschoolers, we were admittedly skeptical it would be successful. After all, PBIS Rewards is designed as a smartphone app and website portal to keep track of reward points without the need for physical tokens. Would preschoolers understand and appreciate points awarded without physical tokens?
“We needed a program that would give us a product to actually use to promote positive outcomes, and PBIS Rewards was that program.”
Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning, also known as Bright From the Start, focuses exclusively on providing services to children from birth to school age, and promotes positive behavioral interventions for all pre-K students. Dr. Houseal had searched for a way to make these interventions more effective, and felt that PBIS Rewards would provide what she and her staff needed to make a PBIS program work. “For years we had been writing rules for the management of classroom behavior, but didn’t have a concrete tool to use,” she says. “We needed a program that would give us a product to actually use to promote positive outcomes, and PBIS Rewards was that program.”
Dr. Houseal’s approach to PBIS for her preschoolers blends the PBIS Rewards system with a traditional token-based system. Each member of the DAFFODIL Preschool staff, from the teachers to the office staff to the custodians, has the ability to award points using the PBIS Rewards app. Each day, students are awarded points based on their behavior in the classroom, lunchroom, playground, restroom, bus transportation, and media center. Throughout the day, they are given points after each transition. For each ten points awarded through the PBIS Rewards app, a student receives one “DAFFODIL Buck.” DAFFODIL Bucks are physical tokens and can be collected and saved towards rewards in the DAFFODIL Store. “The students are orientated on the prizes, the points system, and what they would receive once they got the points desired,” says Dr. Houseal. “Each Friday, students are allowed to visit the DAFFODIL store to choose their prizes. The teachers use their Smart Boards to display the points system and allow students to see the points they’ve earned and used. Because these students are so young, instant feedback is vital for this program to work.”
“My teachers now have a tool to use to reinforce positive behavior, which is better than just teaching concepts. They are much more relaxed and in control of their classroom environment with PBIS Rewards.”
The preschool students at DAFFODIL love their PBIS system, and the teachers and staff love PBIS Rewards for helping them to manage their system. Because the students receive physical tokens for each ten points awarded, positive behavior is understood and enforced, and the students learn a valuable lesson about earning and spending. DAFFODIL’s staff can award points to any student, anywhere in the school, at any time, and do not have to rely on keeping a supply of paper tokens at hand. Positive behaviors are increased and students build self-esteem through these rewards.
“It’s working,” says Dr. Houseal. “My staff is saying how well it’s working, and I know it’s working because of the traffic to the store and the talk I hear in the halls and classrooms about points and behavior. Last year, my office sometimes felt like it had a revolving door because of teachers bringing students to see me for negative behavior – that’s not happening this year. My students are really trying to show me how well they can behave whenever they see me in the halls or classrooms.” The atmosphere at DAFFODIL is dramatically different, thanks to PBIS Rewards. “I don’t hear the tense voices of teachers like I once did during transitions. My teachers now have a tool to use to reinforce positive behavior, which is better than just teaching concepts. They are much more relaxed and in control of their classroom environment with PBIS Rewards.”
If you’ve been considering implementing a PBIS program for your younger students, DAFFODIL Preschool’s use of PBIS Rewards proves that even preschoolers can benefit from a PBIS program!