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Whole class silence for preschoolers aged 3

(42 Posts)
littlemissexcited5 Fri 01-Mar-13 19:01:08

My 3 year old has mentioned that they have had 3 minutes silences and has role played what happens. The first time it seemed to be that they were 'too noisy and shouting' at lunchtime and the staff made them sit there for 3 minutes as a punishment. Then today when I went to pick my child up a little earlier than usual the whole group were sat in a circle in absolute silence, all crossed legged, looking very sombre with a very large egg timer in the middle of the circle. As I got my child's things together the staff member said now we are having this silence because we didn't play the game properly. I mentioned to another member of staff about this and she said it's a minute per the child's age. But to me it seems wrong
1) to punish a whole class when they are only preschoolers (private nursery so some 2 1/2 year olds in there as well as four year olds),
2) to punish them for being too shouty and lunch or not playing a game properly - there were about 15 of them! Surely there are other ways?
3) timeout should be used as a thinking time for individuals and not as a punishment

I spoke to the nursery manager and she said she wasn't aware that they were doing this - she knew they were doing it for individuals but not whole groups.

I'd really appreciate your thoughts as it was a horrible experience to enter such a sombre room! I've noticed recently that my child's role play recently about preschool has been a bit more 'shouty'.

My child tests the boundaries like any preschooler and I am no expert but these discipline tactics just don't feel right.

5madthings Fri 01-Mar-13 19:08:43

Silence?!! That sounds mad for a class of three yr olds!!

flangledoodle Fri 01-Mar-13 19:10:43

Sounds at best weird to me.

AgentZigzag Fri 01-Mar-13 19:11:03

My 3 YO goes to nursery weekday mornings and they have levels of expectation for how the DC behave, which can only be a good thing for me.

When I was opening the thread I was thinking the clincher was how long they had to sit there, and three minutes isn't an unreasonable time.

When I first went to look at the nursery I went in and talked to the manager for about five minutes, but when I turned to go out there were about 20 little children all sat there quietly eating their lunch shock It took me by surprise because I hadn't even noticed they were there, bless them. I was very impressed.

How do you think they should be dealing with rowdy children? If you don't like them sat there for three minutes I'm guessing the staff yelling at the children wouldn't go down well?

They have to do something and this seems a controlled and non intrusive intervention, so long as they only get reminded to quietly sit still if they don't rather than any further punishments, and it's good training for starting school as well.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 01-Mar-13 19:11:15

I don't think it sounds right either. I'm a nursery nurse and I was ready to defend it because I thought you were talking about a silence for Remembrance Day or something, and we do that at my nursery. We only do a minute and a big deal is made about it, so the children learn, take it seriously and there is no problem if they can't manage it. But even then I can see that some practitioners might disagree with it.

2 and a half year olds having to sit in silence at pre school as punishment sounds wrong, for lots of reasons.

meemar Fri 01-Mar-13 19:11:29

that sounds wrong and I'm sure Ofsted would not be happy

littlemissexcited5 Fri 01-Mar-13 19:15:04

I respect your opinions AgentZigzag but could really all 15 children have not been playing the game right? There are some very shy children in the group - not my child I hasten to add - I guess I am just a little uncomfortable with everyone getting the same punishment. I'd prefer it to be whoever was accountable. The manager of the room said ' You'd think it would be easier with less children in today'.

FlowerTruck Fri 01-Mar-13 19:17:44

How horrible.

AgentZigzag Fri 01-Mar-13 19:21:06

I think I might have been answering from a more 'is it reasonable to make small children have a quiet time' POV, because you're right, the punishment bit does make a big difference, and at three they're not going to understand the group being punished for a few individuals behaviour so the group can put pressure on the one who's acting up to behave better (which is why you'd do it to older age groups).

Is there anything else about the nursery you've not been 100% on?

It's good the manager was taking it seriously, but then, she should know what's going on in her nursery shouldn't she?

noisytoys Fri 01-Mar-13 19:22:17

My DD2 is 2 and a half. She would be physically incapable of sitting silently for three minutes. She wouldn't understand what was expected of her, her understanding is very limited and she has no concept of time at all. I think it is inappropriate and it makes me sad poor lambs

girliefriend Fri 01-Mar-13 19:22:55

Sounds horrible and I would be looking for another nursery asap, poor kids!!

Sounds like totally unrealistic expectations for 3yos ffs angry

Softlysoftly Fri 01-Mar-13 19:24:51

"Punishments" at nursery on the whole sound a little odd to me. Consequences and discussions Yes but this feels a bit off

racmun Fri 01-Mar-13 19:27:14

I wouldn't be very happy. my son who is 2 1/2 is at Pre school and they have to sit quietly for registration. They are told to sit down and then a story is read etc. My little boy objected at first but now follows the others and I think it is quite good discipline for school.

I think the problem with the scenario you've described is that I'm not sure any of the children will actually understand the cause and effect of their punishment so it's pointless and likely to turn them off appropriate quiet time such as registration stories etc as they're likely to associate it with punishment
What does not playing the game properly actually mean? I personally think punishment needs to be more instantaneous than that.

AgentZigzag Fri 01-Mar-13 19:27:18

You have to ask as well why the staff weren't able to 'manipulate' the children into playing the game 'properly' as they were doing it.

There are plenty of ways to engage small children and get them to do what you'd like without letting them run riot.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 01-Mar-13 19:28:29

In my opinion, punishments like this are setting some children up to fail. At three and four years old, some children just aren't physically ready to be able to sit still and in silence with absolutely nothing to engage them for periods of time like that. I'm sure I read an article a few years ago that talked about it being damaging to children to make them do this, because their neurological systems just aren't developed enough, so it makes it very very difficult, even physically uncomfortable, for them to comply. When they simply can't do what they are supposed to do, it can't be good for their self esteem, and other children can be very quick to label other children as naughty.

Children who are engaged in what they are doing at pre school simply shouldn't need punishment like this. They need to learn that there is a time for being rowdy and there are times for being quiet, but they don't need to learn that being rowdy is wrong. They don't need to learn that they are playing a game wrong, if they are playing and making up their own rules, then I can't see why that's a bad thing at all.

If there are rules in a game that really do need to be stuck to rigidly, then children need to be old enough to do that relatively easily with support and explanations.

I do hope that if the nursery are displaying this kind of bad practice (because that's what it is in my opinion) then they are also accompanying that with positive explanaition a of what children should do, instead of just telling them what they Shouldn't do.

AgentZigzag Fri 01-Mar-13 19:29:19

Yes, I agree with your post racmun, seeing the other children is a good lead to encourage them to do what they're doing.

littlemissexcited5 Fri 01-Mar-13 19:34:40

Thanks everyone - Cloud and Trees - interesting that you say that about positive reinforcement because thinking back she didn't say what they should have been doing only the negative that they didn't play the game properly.

AgentZigzag and Rancum def need more communication going on to explain how to play the game properly. The question is where do I go from here?!

AgentZigzag Fri 01-Mar-13 20:13:14

Could you ask the manager what's happened about the talk you had, see if they've made any progress with it?

But they've undermined the trust you had with them haven't they? You're always going to be on the watch for other stuff, and maybe more closely question your DC about what they've been doing that day.

It sounds like a no brainer question, but does knowing they've done this make you feel less happy sending your DC in? If it's only a one off (and perhaps the responsibility of less experienced staff) and you can see things have changed/are changing then that would mean more than if the manager started getting defensive and make you feel as though you're being unreasonable.

PenguinBear Fri 01-Mar-13 20:35:56

This is a tricky one. While I agree that a whole class punishment is not the answer, teaching the children to sit in silence is a good skill for them to learn and watching a sand timer is a good way to show them how long has past!

In my class (Foundation Stage) I expect them to be silent, and some of them are just 4 and out of Pre-school/nursery. smile

littlemissexcited5 Fri 01-Mar-13 21:08:08

Thanks AgentZigzag good advice. PenguinBear - I see your point. In this situation it's been given as a punishment for not playing a game properly. Would you use it as a punishment? Or do you mean just teaching silence is a good skill in a positive context?

PenguinBear Fri 01-Mar-13 21:12:17

Teaching it in a positive way! smile

But I have used it in the past in a similar context as described above. I had the Reception class from hell one year and for every second of my time they wasted they paid me bacever playtime. We used a sandtimer and they had to sit in silence!
Although haven't used it in a punishment context for many years! smile

PenguinBear Fri 01-Mar-13 21:12:47

Back at.. Playtime *

littlemissexcited5 Fri 01-Mar-13 21:16:53

Thanks Penguin. Numbers have recently increased in the private nursery preschool and this seems to be a new thing they have started. Certainly my daughter's nursery role play has become a lot more negative so will have to see.

Smartiepants79 Fri 01-Mar-13 21:37:47

'Punishment' seems like a rather harsh word to use for this situation. It is being used as a 'consequence' of their behaviour. Being very loud=sit in silence.
3 minutes is an appropriate length of time and sitting quietly is hardly going to do them any harm.
I have used this method with classes of 5 year olds and they very quickly learn that if they waste my time then they have to pay it back.
It is not that big a deal. IMO!

Level3at6months Fri 01-Mar-13 21:48:35

I think it's a big deal. 3 year olds and younger being made to sit in silence is ridiculous. Not appropriate at all. I fail to see the educational value of being able to sit quietly for 3 minutes and I'm afraid the getting them ready for school argument doesn't wash with me. Young children get loud and boisterous but the staff should have strategies to deal with it and to engage them in a far more constructive way. Using a whole class punishment at this age - at any age, in fact - is just wrong.

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