How To Transform Time Out Into A Positive Classroom Tool

How To Transform Time Out Into A Positive Classroom Tool By A Word On Third

You had a really rough morning. You almost missed the bus, and the kid sitting next to you made fun of you this morning when you sat down and everything fell out of your backpack. You hadn’t realized your backpack was unzipped this morning when you frantically ran out of the house to catch the bus. 

Walking to your classroom, you keep your head down but manage to muster up a cheerful “good morning” to your teacher as you walk in her room. You make it to math, and much to your pleasure, you’re learning about geometry and your teacher is letting you solve some pattern block puzzles. You’re thrilled—maybe your day is turning around! Your teacher is giving directions, but you just HAVE to touch those pattern blocks. You dig your hand into the bucket of blocks when you hear your teacher screech “GO TO TIME OUT. I TOLD YOU TO WAIT TO TOUCH THE BLOCKS!” 

Now you’ve gone and done it! You see your classmates all turn around to look at you. You feel their eyes burning into you while you hang your head. Avoiding their eyes, you get up and do the walk of shame all the way to the time out chair while your hear some of your classmates whispering about you...

If you were ever sent to time out as a student, you can probably relate to this experience. Maybe you’ve even seen it happen in some of the classrooms, summer camps, or other childcare programs you’ve worked in. Maybe it has even happened in your own classroom!

What would you say if I told you that my students have a WILDLY different time out experience? What if I told you that some of my students go to time out by choice?

Time out is positive in my classroom, and it can be positive in yours too. Watch my quick scope below to see how I introduce and use time out in my classroom. You won't be sorry you caught it, and neither will your kids! 

It's close to the end of the year, but I still highly recommend you use this starting tomorrow! You don't need much time to introduce it, and it makes a world of difference. In fact, even if you do something similar (or something almost identical!), it's not a bad idea to model this a few times throughout the year. Connect your new time out (or whatever you decide to call it) to your classroom rules and talk about how this can help your students build their level of self-control.

Remember, the purpose of time out is to help a child calm down. However, it's not always the most appropriate consequence for every situation. Sometimes you might want to try having students give an apology of action, which I wrote about here and here. Time out won't work for every student, but it works for most students most of the time. Kindergarteners and fifth graders can do this with ease. I'd venture middle schoolers could probably do something similar (but maybe more age appropriate) as well. It's all about teaching students to self-monitor and self-regulate. 

How might you change your time out procedures? Do you use one at all? If not, are you considering trying it in a positive way? Comment below!

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