Monday, February 11, 2013

Practice makes kind of perfect

Kiddo has had two major issues in the past couple of weeks: He misbehaves on the bus -- fooling around, distracting the driver -- and he never ever ever ever (ever) raises his hand to speak in class. The bus thing is an issue, not just because he's the grandson of a former school bus driver. He was one write-up away from a bus suspension. This is, I'm told, rare for a kindergartener. (To be fair, the school is saying they'd try to work with us on changing his bus seat or finding a smaller bus for him, rather than outright suspending him.)

Now, I know from massive experience that just telling him to do a thing does not mean he'll do it. It doesn't even mean he'll hear you -- even if you're looking right at him from a foot away. That fabulous skittery brain of his does not do so well with verbal instructions. So I figured, the best way to teach him proper behavior is to have him practice it.

We happen to own a school bus. It's roughly the size of a play tent, for about the same purpose. Kiddo's bus trip is about five minutes each way. (I know. How much mischief could he possibly be making in five minutes? He's quick, I guess.) So I got him to sit in the play bus and told him, if he could sit properly for five minutes, per the timer, he'd get a marshmallow. He blew it the first time, twisting around in his seat, trying to get up. But he corrected immediately so I gave him half a marshmallow. He immediately decided he would try again, for the full marshmallow, and the second time he got it. I've been reminding him of bus rules every day, and throwing in the bus-marshmallow game whenever possible, so we'll see if that does it.

As for the hand raising, I instituted a rule: Children who wish to speak at the breakfast or dinner table must raise their hand first. The kids took to this rule with relatively little reminding, although half the time they're raising their hand so they can tell us a knock knock joke. (I'm beginning to regret telling them the "interrupting cow" joke. Entire dinners are spent listening to "Knock knock." "Who's there?" "The interrupting cow." "The interrupt -- " "MOO MOO MOO MOO!" And then they both have giggle fits and the other one immediately tells the joke all over again.)

Since the rule has been in effect, I've noticed a change on his school behavior chart: He's raising his hand. Not a lot, but some. Enough to be noticeable. And any improvement is worth celebrating, right?

If I can just keep figuring out how to think around him, so to speak, maybe we can get through this school thing.

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