I posted on Facebook that I had started my blog and one of my friends, Todd, joked that I should talk about all the lifetime benefits of the "thinking chair." I laughed because Todd has picked on me quite a bit about the fact that I use a thinking chair at all but I thought it would be a good topic for my next post!
Todd and I have had many discussions revolving around the thinking chair that is in my classroom. These conversations usually consist of me telling him how one of my kids was sent to the thinking chair and it did no good to which he'll respond with some witty comment that sounds very much like "I told you so." I quickly shut my mouth because I know he's right.
I don't like the idea of time out or a thinking chair but when you're dealing with 14 or more kids a day there are times when it is needed. I do my best to only send a child to the thinking chair when he or she becomes physical and becomes a danger to the other kids. The key phrase in that last sentence was, "I do my best". This obviously isn't the case. I've sent kids there for not listening, for teasing their friends or talking back to the teachers in the classroom. Ive sent them there for lying or taking toys from another child. Maybe those all aren't good reasons for a child to have to sit in the thinking chair but at the time I thought they were.
I've had kids that throw the thinking chair, kids that have flipped it over and stood on it, kids that have purposely slid out of it and scratched their backs so they can get out of the chair. The thinking chair sits against our shelf of art supplies so I've also had kids sit in it and reach around to grab crayons, markers, scissors and other items and throw them across the room or at teachers and other kids. Clearly the thinking chair sometimes does more harm than good...
Recently I created an area in the room called the "Think Tank." This is a small section of the room that has a fluffy purple carpet and comfy reading pillow. It's also the home to our class fish whose name is Bubbles. I made this little section of the room so I could send kids there to "cool down" when I could see they needed it. Maybe they have to share a toy they don't want to or a friend knocks over a building that they have spent the last 20 minutes building. If I see that child getting frustrated, angry or upset I have them go cool down in the Think Tank with Bubbles so a fight doesn't break out in the middle of the room. Trust me, the last thing I need is the next Fight Club breaking out in the middle of the preschool room. I have way too many kids that would like to jump in and get some of their pent up frustration out!
I guess the whole point of this post is to ask the question, does the thinking chair really work? I'd like to say yes but I'm pretty sure I'd be lying if I did. I don't think that kids learn their lesson from sitting in a chair for three minutes, I think they learn their lesson when you take the time to sit when them and calmly explain why what they did was unacceptable. Children thrive off of positive reinforcement, not negative. I guess instead of calling out the kid who hit the other kid with a wooden block I should praise the kid who walked over to the hurt child and asked of they are okay.
So Todd, if you stuck in there and read this whole post, I have to admit now that you are right. You always are aren't you? And parents who are reading this, don't be surprised if you walk into our room in the next week or so and see that the infamous thinking chair is gone. I'm sure i'll have a classroom full of excited children when that day comes!
Kid Quote of the Day - "My mommy says I'm naughty all the time. That's why she sends me to school." Ohhhhh, fantastic :)