Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Teacher Has Become the Parent

 Alternatively titled: Shit Just Got Real

Thomas has been in nursery school for about two months now.  He has made friends and when I watched him sing during the Halloween presentation, it appeared that he was paying attention

And then one day:


I am pulled aside by the teacher, and she proceeded to tell me that he is having trouble listening because he is goofing off with his friend.   She also informed me that he has a tendency to give dirty looks to other classmates when they want to play with him and his friend.


I feared this day would come, but I didn’t expect it so soon.  The teacher told me not to worry about it because he is just testing boundaries, but I did need to talk to him about making good choices.

And talking about good choices we did.  In fact, by 10:30 the next day, we had made a traffic light chart to help him visualize his behavior choices along with a reward system.  I also thought that an extra physical outlet for his energy would help him stay more focused in school, so I enrolled him in a gymnastics class.

Shit Just Got Real

One might say that I overreacted to this statement.

However, when I taught junior high, I was on the giving end of this kind of information, which was often times received with blank stares and comments fueled by denial and embarrassment. 

I vowed that I would never fall prey to the “not my child” mentality.  Which is why I may have overcompensated.

I have to say that this system is working for us.  The vicious cycle of empty threats of taking toys and screen time away communicated in a volume that I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with was failing.  (Shocking, I know). 

At first, he didn’t like the traffic light chart (really, who does like to be accountable for their actions?).  Eventually, he accepted it, and now he’s works with it.  I am not saying that he is not making any more bad choices, but I will say that he is understanding the consequences of his choices.  I also realize I may regret the reward system, but I think it may be unrealistic that I expect a 3 ½ year old to be intrinsically motivated. 

With this chart, I feel like I am not squashing his spirit, but rather teaching him to be responsible for his actions.  I also feel it is easier to take the emotion out of a heated situation since there is a clear set of expectations.

So for now, this working.

I stress, "for now."

Have you ever received unfavorable news from school?  How did you handle it?


RealMommyChron said...

This is awesome! (The chart, not the situation.)

I completely understand never wanting to be the parent who says 'not MY child' after being on the teacher side of things.

Maybe this is overboard...? But personally, I think it is fantastic, proactive, responsible and truthfully? Loving.
Like you said, you are TEACHING him, GUIDING him, HELPING him, instead of just *loudly* offering threats and consequences. (I only say all of that so clearly because it is occurring here, too.)

Like I keep saying, you are a WONDERFUL mom and someday it will all pay off when you have raised some of the very few adults who are not total a-holes. To put it gently. ;) Good work, Erin!

Erin Rawlings said...

Annie, you just made my day! xoxo