I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the family picnic this evening. I know there are lots of children who are very excited about going down the waterslide.
At the beginning of every school year teachers are setting the tone and expectations for the year. They are starting to build their class culture and get to know the children.
As a school, we are having a big push to remind the children of appropriate manners, behaviour and the way they talk to their peers and adults. The children’s behaviour has slipped a little and we want to get them back on track. This was brought home to me late last year, when one of our regular relievers refused to come back for a second day in a classroom because the children’s behaviour was inappropriate and very hard to manage. I was very taken aback at the time, but going into classrooms, walking around the school and talking with teachers, it did appear that the children’s standards were slipping.
No, it is not about children being physically violent or verbally abusive. It is insidious behaviours which can be very wearying for a classroom teacher. The biggest concerns as listed by the teachers are: distracting others, being silly when the teacher’s back is turned, mimicking the teacher, answering back, non compliance, calling out, interrupting, pushing through others to be first and the major one of not doing what they are asked when they are asked.
We know that every single one of our children is a lovely person, we love their individuality, their spark, their humour. We don’t want to squash them or belittle them or act in a draconian way, but when you have 20 – 30 children in a classroom, having some children who are pushing the boundaries with their behaviour can impact on the learning of the others who are doing the right thing. For every second the teacher’s attention is on the disruptive children, it is one second not focussed on teaching.
So how can you help at home (and we need your help)? Do what we are doing in school. Insist that children do what is asked of them straight away rather than have you have to say it a number of times before they comply. Insist that children wait their turn; to speak or to get something. Remind them of their please and thank you. Pull them up when they say something disrespectful about someone or mimic someone in a mean way. Let them have their voice but don’t allow them to interrupt you mid- sentence to answer back.
In school, teachers are reminding children of all of the above. Their biggest weapon is not naming and shaming the disruptive child, but praising and valuing the child who is complying. It is amazing how this approach works. I have already had children sent to me for Praise Cards to be sent home about their wonderful behaviour.
We use a restorative approach when it comes to inappropriate behaviour and our new teachers are quickly coming on board with this approach because we know that in the long term this works to get children to take responsibility for their behaviour and the effect it has on others.
Finally, it is VERY important that you are reassured that we really do love all our children and are doing this so they can become even more wonderful people.