Red Behavior

There’s a new sheriff in town and her name is The Color Chart. Employed in kindergarten classrooms across the region, she is an imposing tower of color blocks that rewards children by bestowing her color goodness to the um, behaved.

BLUE for the exceptionally well-behaved, You went beyond the call of duty.

GREEN for fair to middling behavior, You are doing a good job sitting still.

YELLOW for poor behavior, Don’t hit Billy, he’s crying.

RED, for bad behavior, You did not listen despite the 323 warnings you were given, and now you must sit there with that red glow around your head so that all can witness your shame.

So if I’m good, I don’t get that new Thomas train but instead I get to move up to blue? YAY!!

Did you get that? The reward is not a toy or bowl of chocolate ice cream, it is a color. This is genius.

It works like this: the kids arrive at school in the morning and all hang out together on GREEN, each on their own clothespin, each with a fresh start and the possibility of moving up. Of course that means there’s also the possibility of moving down. As the day goes on and as it perhaps gets harder to sit as still or stop yourself from blurting out your every thought during circle time, your pin might begin its downward travel.

I’ve been volunteering in Sam’s classroom every week and I rarely see anyone on red. (Although I know a few sometimes land there because Sam likes to tell me which friends went where that day). I say this is genius because when you have a room of 25 kindergarteners and spend any extended length of time with them, say more than 10 minutes, all you want to do is put your head on a pillow and gouge your eyes — that’s how exhausting it is. The teacher is a saint and I can’t believe she not only shows up every day but that she smiles the whole time. The Color Chart, you might say, is her assistant teacher.

So Sam came home one day and said: “Mommy, can we have a color chart here?” I know I’ve said it already, but Genius!

We found sheets of construction paper and made our own sheriff. Since we were out of red, we used “our imaginations” to make peach-colored paper red. The only problem is that the Sheriff has been a pain in my butt. Sam talks about it non-stop. “Mommy, I got out of bed, can I move to blue?” “Look! I ate my oatmeal, can I move to blue?” “Mommy, John didn’t listen to you, I’ll move him to yellow.” I’m not sure why John is on blue here and Sam on green, but I’m guessing that Sam will change that soon. Today, I can’t remember the infraction, but I threatened to move him down to red and HE threatened to run away.

The new sheriff? Pretty powerful stuff, but perhaps too much like crack?


Leave a comment
  • I love this! The boy just wants to be in charge. He gets it, he understands what’s required and he wants to make sure everyone stays in line (and if he controls it, I suppose he stays right up there in the land of blue!!)

  • Wow. Our school doesn’t employ blue… We tried to bring that home (with cards – and when they misbehaved and had to change their cards, they had to do it themselves, oh, the shame!) It didn’t work a BIT for us at home.

    I love that Sam is constantly striving for blue… probably because I don’t have to hear the bartering.

  • Charlotte’s teacher doesn’t do this. All the other K teachers do, but not hers. I was kind of hoping for it because I thought we could use it at home too.

    Sarah’s the one that needs it though.

    One good thing about ASD stuff – these kids like their rules. 🙂

  • My older (NT) son is doing the same thing to our whole family, including the dog.

    Interestingly enough, the twins are usually on green, but my husband and I frequently dip down to yellow and red.

  • Your sheriff is totally cracking me up. Ah, the power of the chart!

    Those charts are indeed genius. I will NEVER FORGET the one day in elementary school I was downgraded from a smiley face to a serious face (one step above the frowny face) for talking in class. Seriously. I still remember.

  • Yup we’re in the ‘incredible five point scale’ even now, although they don’t use it at school. For now we’re all about transitioning to middle school next year – always good to plan ahead.


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