Teaching Self-Management Skills to Young Children



This may sound far-fetched as you’re watching more than one of your preschoolers flit from one activity to another, never actually completing a task, but young children can be taught self-management (or self-monitoring) skills.  You just have to bring it down to their level…their developmental level.

I don’t know about you, but I often need to monitor my progress on a task.  I use checklists (I do love checking items off!), calendars, reminders, and notes to self (I sure wish I had invented Post-It Notes).  These are strategies I have learned to follow steps necessary to complete tasks.

Children also need strategies to stay on task.  When taught how to use these strategies with modeling and fading prompts, you will see them become more and more independent throughout the school day.  Sound good?  Sound unbelievable?  It is good and it you can believe it.  The following intervention packet from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) helps to illustrate practical strategies to use when teaching self-management skills to young children.



In the Infants & Toddlers program, we have used the following self-management strategies with great success.

Use a visual timer and directions for a task (i.e., place the beads on the dowel).  Start with short intervals, depending on the child’s developmental level.  When the timer alerts the child, if they are still on task, they get to place a token in a container (pom-poms in an empty cup holder size container or disks in a Connect 4 game work well).  Continue this until the task is complete.  When finished, let them count the tokens if they are able.  If they cannot count them, just place them on paper and use stamps, stickers or dots to represent the tokens on a graph. *Sample graphs: Chart or caterpillarchart


Regularly show the child his/her progress and explain how “more” tokens means they are spending “more” time on task.  Keep these graphs in a notebook to monitor the time on task.  Expect the time to vary with the difficulty or preference for the task.

Here are some fantastic step-by-step charts that you could use for self-monitoring: http://www.freeprintablebehaviorcharts.com/step-by-step-behavior-charts.htm  Check out all the preschool behavior charts on their website.

I hope these ideas for teaching young children to use self-monitoring strategies works in your classroom.  Please share any ideas you have for charts and tokens and I’ll add them to this post.  Thanks!

Miss Debi

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