Q: My child gets upset when the teacher uses the Clip Chart. What can I do?

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A: Clip Charts are used in classrooms and perhaps at home to change behavior in children. The teacher has a chart with six to eight different categories of behavior on it. Typically, at the top is Super Star, followed by Outstanding, and Great Choice. The middle category is usually Ready to Learn or I’m doing my best to learn. The lower categories are labels like Reminder, Stop and Think, and Contact Home. So they run from positive praise to reprimanding and calling in the parents.

Each child has a clip or clothespin with their name on it. Children are expected to move their clip up and down the Clip Chart through the day based on their behavior. 

Clip Charts are viewed as tools that allow students to be rewarded for positive behavior and discouraged for negative behavior. It seems more like public shaming. Who’d want to have their clip on the negative squares for everyone to see? – Oh look, Bobby’s off task again. It shows the teacher’s the ‘boss’ of the classroom. But it doesn’t do much that’s constructive, like helping the children learn self-regulation.

People using Clip Charts must believe compliance is a goal. NO! We want children to be engaged and excited about learning, not fearing their clip might move down. Charts don’t teach self-regulation. They just punish less desirable behavior, that is, if the child even car

es. These charts really can hurt children. Even if the child with the clip in the bottom section doesn’t care, other children will consider them the ‘problem’ student. 

If teachers and parents really need to have a chart, try making all behaviors positive ones. Ones they can aspire to. Let’s encourage positive learning behaviors in all the children. Here’s an example of a Clip Chart that focuses on positive learning behaviors. Move a clip anywhere on this chart and it’s still positive. No child would be shamed by having a clip on the bottom of this chart. 

Please ask your child’s teachers to reconsider using Clip Charts that shame children. If children really need to stop and think, the teacher should have a private chat with the child. This will let them find out what’s going on for the child and how things could be made better. If the teacher needs to talk to the parents, don’t make it a threat. What a horrid idea! Have a chat with the parents AND the child together to work things out. 

There are lots of articles on this topic. Try out these (you might want to share them with your child’s teacher):

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