So let’s get back to managing children with choices. It works for me; how about you?
Here’s the scenario. Your student is getting restless, but you still have half a lesson to go. Before he has a chance to show that restlessness, express the situation to him in words:
B—, we’ve been working so hard for the last half hour. We need to take a break soon. How about playing with Lego? Which would you like to do first—finish the worksheet or play?
(For older children, I sometimes add, How long shall we break? Let’s see, we still need to finish up two sections of our worksheet and read our story. Ten minutes or fifteen minutes?)
Knowing children, of course you probably can predict the answer. But what benefit does this provide?
- It gave the child a sense of responsibility for his time and his work. When he makes the decision, he is more likely to stick to it because it was his choice.
- It catered to his needs (I know of primary six students who still need breaks; and it is after all, a proven way of improving concentration!). And it did so in a way that allows the child to engineer it to his own requirements.
Try it! You’ll be amazed and thrilled at how well it works. Before we leave this subject, I just want to leave two other tips with you.
Manipulate the timing. Timing is everything. You want to give the choice BEFORE the child reacts negatively to your request, not after. Of course, this demands that you know your students well enough to read their body language and preempt their responses. By presenting the choice at the right time, you’d be avoiding difficult situations and conflicts. It all hinges on how well you understand the child and his needs.
What if… there isn’t a choice? I’ll give you an example with a 3 year old: we need to put on his shoes to go outdoors right now, but he doesn’t want to. There is no choice there! The answer? CREATIVITY. You can still give him a choice: “We need to put on our shoes now, B—. Come, I’ll sit with you while you do that. Let’s see, do you want to put on the left shoe first or the right shoe first?”
Does this really work? Yes, but it depends on you. How? I’ll post again next week and let you know, ya! :)
Until then, thank you for reading, and I’ll see you then!