Kindergarten teachers have a very difficult job because not only are they trying to teach a classroom full of children valuable educational skills, but they’re trying to teach a classroom full of four, five and six-year-olds those valuable skills! Hats off to kindergarten teachers for having so much patience and for coming up with new and different ways to teach children and have them behave at the same time. Clip charts have become increasingly popular recently as a way to help kids see how they’re doing in the classroom, but some experts are saying they may be doing more harm than good.
If you’re not familiar with clip charts they’re basically classroom charts that teachers can use to illustrate how a child is behaving during the day at school. The teacher will place their ‘clip’ beside the tag that best illustrates how they are doing which could range from “superstar” to “ready for the day” to “think about it” to “lost privilege.” The children can get “clipped up” which is good, to “clipped down” which is not so good. It’s a great way for many teachers to be able to explain to their students their expectations and for the children to see when they’re not behaving the way the teacher would want them to. While many teachers love these (and many don’t), experts are now arguing they aren’t as positive as they were thought to be.
Emily W. King is a child psychologist who explained to Parents Magazine that an email from a kindergarten parent concerned her about these clip charts. “My son is “scared to go to school because he’s afraid he’ll have his name moved down,” the letter read. “I’m just not sure how to handle it. He’s also telling me he’s sad but he doesn’t know why. I’m really starting to worry it’s depression because of school.”
Dr. Mona Delahooke, child psychologist and author of Beyond Behaviors explained that these charts can “create more stress for all the children in the class who fear that they will see their status shift due to ‘bad’ behavior,” and says they only really work if the child has the skills to know how to correct their behavior. “Instead, in many children it makes them feel less safe in the classroom by activating the ‘fight or flight’ pathway of the brain when a child fails to meet expectations,” Dr. Delahooke added.
Dr. King agrees that using a system that tracks progress is beneficial, but feels that it should be kept private for just the teacher and not posted on a classroom wall for all the children to see. This will help teachers be able to keep track of their individual student’s process but also removes and shame or feelings that one isn’t as good as another in the classroom.
Does your child’s school use clip charts? Are you a fan or would you rather see a different way of monitoring and correcting behavior used?