Early Childhood Teaching Tips: How to Decrease Inappropriate Behavior During Structured Physical Activity


Tips for teaching preschool childrenChildren face an abundance of “firsts” when they attend preschool, including their first experience of structured activity time. Enjoyment and success during activity is best achieved by remembering the saying, “The best defense is a good offense. Children need to learn the expectations for the structured activity class time.

For a sample lesson plan with expectations for structured early childhood physical activity, Click Here.

Even when children are aware of class expectations, the excitement of brightly colored equipment, inclusion of movement, and possibly being outdoors are distractions that can cause children to behave inappropriately. Decreasing inappropriate behavior is one of the goals of creating a positive learning environment.

Here are 11 tips  to help decrease inappropriate behavior during early childhood physical activity:

  1. Engage children in activity as soon as possible by keeping instructions short and concise.
  2. Remember to “teach from the perimeter.” If indoors, keep your “back to the wall.” Move to visit all children without turning your back on any.
  3. Use a musical activity when children’s attention becomes low and there is a need for a quick distraction enhanced with music.
  4. Children covet individual attention. When a child is modeling desired behaviors, say the child’s name for all to hear when providing positive and specific feedback.
  5. Provide individual feedback when the class is engaged in activity rather than calling attention to the negative behavior for all to hear.
  6. Use proximity control. Move closer to the child.
  7. To ensure the safety of all, if a child is endangering others have the child stand next to you and observe others on task. When you see the child is ready to participate safely, get the child engaged as soon as possible.
  8. Minimize distractions.
  9. When outdoors, strive to keep the children’s backs to the sun.
  10. If another class is present, position your class to face a different way.
  11. When using manipulatives begin with exploration time for children to just play. Remember to have children place manipulatives on the floor when giving instructions.