Perspectives from the field : attitudes, beliefs, and the practice of time out with preschool children
The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate early childhood lead teachers' perspectives of time out, including their attitudes and beliefs, and the practice of time out in their classrooms. The study sought to detail the practice of time out, to investigate teachers' perceptions of time out, and to gain further understanding into teachers' choices regarding time out use. These objectives were achieved with the use of a comprehensive, written survey directed to 151 lead preschool teachers at 18 randomly selected preschool programs within Hamilton County, Ohio. Written discipline policies from 9 preschool programs included in the survey sample were also analyzed as they related to the use of time out. Fifty completed surveys were returned representing a well-balanced sample of lead teachers across multiple demographic variables.Results indicated that 66% of teachers were using time out and there were not any distinguishable differences among the variables collected between those teachers who used time out and those who did not. Teachers' time out practices included verbal or visual warnings for children, discussion, and redirection. Teachers defined time out as an action, as a period of time, and as a place. 63% of teachers did not perceive time out as punishment; nonetheless 55% perceived that time out had the potential to be harmful to young children. The majority of teachers using time out did so because they perceived that the child learned through time out, but other teachers indicated that young children were not able to comprehend time out. Some teachers used time out due to the perceived social and emotional benefits for the child while other teachers perceived time out to be detrimental to children's social and emotional development. Teachers also indicated that they used time out to maintain control of children.Teachers who used time out were influenced by experience, education, program policies, and because time out is a form of discipline. Interestingly, these same factors influenced other teachers to not use time out. The majority of the teachers who chose not to use time out were influenced by other methods available for classroom or behavior management.