MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — Kindergarten class at Reidland Elementary School starts a little differently now. Right from the start, students begin engaging with others by picking what kind of greeting they want from their teacher. It's all a part of the fairly new concept called Conscious Discipline.
"If students don't feel safe, if they don't feel loved, then they are not going to listen to any instruction that we can give them," says Reidland Elementary Principal Anne Cox.
Cox says Conscious Discipline focuses on teaching students how to deal with their emotions and how to interact with their peers. She says it also helps teach students basic life skills at a young age.
"It's a soft skill that even as high school students we try and teach them: how to shake hands, how to look someone in the eye. We're just teaching them at maybe 3 years old," says Cox.
One of the things that conscious discipline does is it teaches student's how to deal with their emotions. In the area called the safe place, student's can talk to their feeling buddies and express how they feel that day.
"We can get students to recognize at an early age that emotions are OK," says McCracken Schools Superintendent Steve Carter.
Carter says Conscious Discipline is a priority for the school board moving forward. He thinks it will help students become better learners with self discipline.
"It's about maintaining structure, and that's what this conscious discipline is, it's not to enforce consequences. It's to be proactive and prevent things from getting out of hand," says Carter.
Cox says she sees this helping both students and teachers.
"It's just another tool that we can use as educators to help our students be ready be ready to learn," says Cox.
The McCracken County School Board approved a one-year contract extension with Conscious Discipline. Multi-day sessions for teachers can cost up to about $4,000.