Colors of the Rainbow: Behavior Charts


Awesome orange, yahoo yellow, good day green, watch out white, and then there’s boo-hoo blue. Welcome to the behavior chart in my son’s kindergarten class. Some of us are all too familiar with charts indicating the type of day our kid had. Well, I’m over it.

Up until about two or three months ago, these charts gave me the blues and my mid-afternoon mood changed when I picked up my oldest son from school. I was going from a good day to stressful evening. He would hop in the car and I’d ask “How was your day; what color did you get?” His younger brother would even chime in asking “did you get a blue?!” Immediately, he’d either light up or dim his inner light becoming upset with himself. And then came reprimanding for getting a “watch out white,” and let’s not even talk about the “boo-hoo blue” days.

Then it hit me. One- I know my kid; two- teachers face budget cuts, limited resources, and a classroom that could really use three teachers (I saw it myself when visiting his class) that probably affect these behavior charts. While I do think there is some validity with the charts, it wasn’t the full spectrum of my kid and I needed to get ahead of it.

So the game plan changed even more after reading an article in The Washington Post sent by a family member who listened to my gripes and concerns. It alluded to the fact that there was a dark side to behavior charts. It can have positive and negative effects on our children and it stressed the importance of keeping the lines of communication open with teachers. We met with his teacher and reopened those lines.

Our kindergartner was easily distracted – he’d hear or see something and would explore, possibly in the middle of a lesson. He also needed to listen more. Isn’t this typical of any kid? OK, got it. We worked on it and he’s better at focusing and listening but it’s still a work in progress.

At that point, I decided it wasn’t going to be a big deal anymore. We were going to provide positive reinforcement on those days where he wasn’t an awesome orange, yahoo yellow or good day green. We’ve all had bad days and the same holds true for our kids- but they’re still good kids.

It’s no longer about the behavior chart; it’s about making him feel good on the inside and outside no matter the color.