This year is going by so fast! I've been looking back at how far my students have come. Academically many of them have made great progress. However, the behavior struggles are still there.
One of our biggest struggles is bringing toys to school. The toys are a big distraction as students are constantly talking about them, showing them to others, and going to their backpacks to trade toys. All of the students know the rule that there are no toys allowed at school. In fact, we even have school toys in our classroom, so there is no need for students to bring their own toys. I know that sharing their toys is a way for students to build relationships, but it is negatively impacting their learning. A few months ago I began taking away toys. Then, my desk drawer filled up with Hot Wheels, Legos, and other trinkets.
I gave toys back to parents at parent teacher conferences and many of them commented that their kids had enough toys and they didn't intend to give these long lost toys back. I discussed with each parent some possible new strategies for stopping our toy problem. All parents agreed that I could throw the toys out. I tried that for a few days, but then I had to deal with kids digging through the trash looking for toys. So, I decided on a better strategy. I now collect the toys all week and sell them in our class store. It hasn't stopped students bringing toys to school, but it has helped them to improve their behavior to earn more dollars so that they can buy back their toys. Students earn fake dollars for following school rules and helping others.
I think this is the best solution I have found so far. How do you handle students bringing toys to school? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks.