On Thursday, May 10, parents of kindergartners in the Pendleton School District learned about the classroom management program the Pendleton Early Learning Center (PELC) has been using this school year. Conscious Discipline is a comprehensive classroom management program and a social-emotional curriculum based on current brain research, child development information and developmentally appropriate practices.
Annette Chastain was the facilitator of the Parent Night event, introducing the program and showing them some of the techniques PELC staff are using on a daily basis with students. Some of these employed breathing exercises, moving arms and legs and other self-regulation practices.
Chastain said Conscious Discipline is a research-based program that also helps adults stay calm enough to see misbehavior as a signal to teach instead of punish. The program is built on safety, connection and problem solving. “I think of Conscious Discipline as mental health promotion at schools. At is core, the program offers self-regulated, brain-based methods for adults and students to employ in order to have successful learning,” Chastain said.
Helping Chastain during the evening were members of the Conscious Discipline Leadership Team from the Behavioral Health Department at Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center, led by Ashley Harding. Each one stood up at the beginning of the training, saying, “My job tonight is to keep you safe.” This mirrors the training PELC students have received in their classrooms to feel safe enough to do their best learning throughout the day.
The PELC is committed to starting each day with every student with a Brain Smart Start, which includes morning greetings to begin the day with structure and positive energy. Daily activities then engage students to unite together, connect and commit.
The purpose of the Parent Night was to inform parents about Conscious Discipline, teach them a few techniques and encourage them to use these with their children at home.
According to Chastain, two decades of research on the brain have determined that successful self-regulation is a better predictor of academic success than IQ or early reading and math skills. Children (and their teachers or caregivers) who are learning Conscious Discipline in Preschool and Head Start settings are already ahead in self-regulation when they get to kindergarten and first grade.
Lori Hale, Principal at the PELC, is positive that Conscious Discipline is helping the entire school do a better job of educating students. The school has trained all of their staff, from teachers and assistants to office and cafeteria personnel. “Having all of us on the same page, understanding and using this system for all students throughout the day is making a big difference in student behavior and creating a safe environment that is essential to effective learning,” Hale said.
During the event, PELC staff served dinner to families and provided childcare. The PELC plans to hold more Parent Information nights next school year about Conscious Discipline.
To learn more, visit the Conscious Discipline website.