Doylestown Health’s Children’s Village has been recognized by the state as a participant in the Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support (PAPBS) network. This network oversees the state’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) initiative. The goal of PBIS is to de-escalate poor student behavior by encouraging positive behaviors, ideally avoiding disciplinary action.
Being acknowledged for their implementation of PBIS is another affirmation of Children’s Village’s dedication to the academic and emotional success of every child. As an early childhood education center, Children’s Village provides Doylestown Health employees and the community with programs for children from six weeks old through kindergarten. The center is licensed and accredited by the PA Department of Education, the PA Department of Human Services and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and maintains a STAR-4 rating in the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS Quality Initiative .
Positive Behavior Strategies at Children’s Village
Children’s Village has been incorporating positive behavior strategies in the classroom for the past 10 years. Stephanie Sutorius, infant and toddler program coordinator, master teacher and quality coach, wanted to develop best practices for handling behavioral concerns. She explains that the staff “works hard to support children’s challenging behaviors so that they can still be successful.”
Stephanie collected data from her teachers and assessed needs. She then researched the Pyramid Model, a PBIS concept which, after emphasizing the importance of having qualified staff and alignment with state standards, stresses relationship-building and classroom environment at its foundation. Research has shown that incorporating positive behavior reinforcement and validating children’s emotions, rather than using punishment, can regulate behaviors in 90% of children. All Children’s Village teachers have a background in early childhood education; their training was enriched with modules focused on this model of supporting children’s social and emotional development.
A basic principle of the PBIS Pyramid Model is developing expectations. Children’s Village teachers formulated center-wide positive behavior expectations for their kids, seeking to create a culture where the children are friendly, helpful and safe.
Building upon these expectations, says Children’s Village Director Bernadette Rodrigo, “We have created an environment with tools and supports to help children recognize their emotions and exhibit them in a safe and appropriate way.”
Every classroom has an Emotions Chart. When the kids come in each day, they can move their picture under the emotion which best describes how they are feeling at the moment. The children learn strategies for dealing with negative emotions, such as breathing techniques, playing with sensory toys or sitting in the “Cozy Corner” set up with pillows in each room. In the Cozy Corner, they can have some quiet time until they feel better and ready to rejoin activities.
There are also Picture Schedules posted in every room. While the teacher gives children a verbal preview of the day, the Picture Schedule is there as a visual resource, many times lessening anxiety about how the day will unfold.
The Pom-Pom Jar is another fixture in rooms at Children’s Village. Certain positive behaviors can earn a pom-pom which is deposited into the class jar. Once the jar is full, the class will celebrate with a fun activity.
Meeting the Needs of Children with Greater Challenges
For the smaller percentage of children who need extra help with their behavioral issues, staff has been trained to teach more targeted skills. Teachers will work with children who are learning how to be a friend, how to initiate play or how to take turns or partner with another child, for example. These key relationship-building skills enable the child to cope and thrive in social situations.
At the very top of the pyramid are those kids who still need additional resources. Children’s Village collaborates with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit to develop and implement crisis intervention plans for them. The center can also call upon other outside agencies to support teachers and parents in helping the child.
PBIS is an Ongoing Process
Stephanie is the Children’s Village facilitator for PBIS. She and Bernadette create lessons that support the PBIS initiative. For example, they might provide a unit and resources on friendship that teachers will incorporate into their lesson plans. Stephanie also connects with the center’s core leadership team regularly, reviewing the latest recommendations from the state.
Children’s Village continues to work toward fidelity in Tier 1, meaning that the state will come out and assess and recognize the center further for its application of the PBIS principles. “Children’s Village has always worked to reflect best practices for early childhood education,” says Stephanie. She believes that the PBIS philosophy yields positive outcomes – and that supporting children’s coping skills and emotional behavior is more important than ever in today’s world.
About Doylestown Health
Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.