Super secret manipulative plan A: Third Grade

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies, Day Care & Education

I posted earlier today about my phone call from my youngest son's teacher yesterday. As with lab results, phone calls are just bad news. Good news can wait for the U.S. mail system. After talking to my son's teacher on the phone for an hour, and suggesting and dismissing various scenarios, we hit upon a plan that worked for both of us. Ideas that we rejected:

  • My coming into the classroom five times a week: This undermines the teacher's authority. Plus, I kind of need to work. And probably the best thing I can do is to act in support of her authority.
  • Putting Tommy in a corner to work on his own so he isn't disruptive. Because he then will feel like he never has to follow the same rules as the other students.
  • Home schooling-- heck, I have a hard time getting him to do his homework-- how am I supposed to get him to follow an entire curriculum?
  • Providing "counters" for the entire class and having them lose counters if they don't get their daily work done. Because if one kid loses all five counters on Monday, what do you do with that child for the rest of the week?
But through discussing all of these ideas, we came upon a simple solution. The key is to a) motivate the kid toward a reward that he really wants and b) make it really simple for the teacher-- because your child is not her only student. And in all likelihood, not her only problem child. If he were, it wouldn't be so much of a problem.

Keep reading below the fold for the solution we came up with. Here is the set up:

Last year, I forbade any computer games, X-Box games, etc. during the week. The kids only got to play on the weekend, and then only every other weekend, because they spend alternative weekends with their father. So, taking away privileges was not an effective deterrent-- it wasn't immediate enough. So, this year, I decided that they could play computer games on school nights provided they get their homework done without incident. Well, that wasn't happening, so I took the computer games away.

So, this was my solution:

  1. Have me and the teacher both tell Tommy that I had instigated the phone call-- that won't make him feel defensive toward his teacher.
  2. Tell him the truly nice things his teacher told me about him: He is kind, he is affectionate, he is very smart, he is very capable of doing the work.
  3. Tell him that his teacher wants him to have a good year.
  4. Tell him that his teacher wants to help him earn back one hour of computer time at night.
She and I agreed that there would be one thing from both of us that Tommy needs to do daily-- because right now, that is what he can probably handle. We can introduce more things later. Tommy needs to turn all of his homework in to his teacher, and for me, he needs to do his homework without starting a world war. If I see a little star next to his assignment in his class notebook, then I know his teacher got her end of the bargain. Then, once he has done homework for me, he can have one hour of computer time. If he doesn't get the star OR if he gives me trouble, he loses computer time.

So, this plan was designed both to allow his teacher to be seen as his advocate and to share a common goal, so he will cooperate with her at school (if he senses that a teacher doesn't like him or that all is lost, then his behavior will deteriorate), and also to give Tommy a concrete accomplishment every day-- with a reward at the end.

What solutions have worked for your kids? PLEASE SHARE! I'll let you know how this works for us-- and how long it works for us before we have to come up with plan B.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.