He’s On Red AGAIN…
I don’t know about you, but as a mom, I only want to see the best in my children. This is even more true for my boys. I love all my children equally, but my boys have a special hold on my heart. Those sweet smiles and big eyes could never do anything wrong, right?
Well, we all know that isn’t true. But they can’t be that bad, right? So why is my son coming home day after day after day with his clip on red? Why is he always in trouble?
Let me clarify – I hold no illusion that my children are perfect. They do things they shouldn’t. They are impulsive. They are sassy. They lie. They test their boundaries and my patience. These are things all children do. Most days, I handle their behavior just fine. I won’t lie and say that they don’t think I’m a stark raving lunatic some days. But I try to keep those days few and far between. So what’s going on at school?
It’s absolutely normal and okay to have high expectations for children. However, it is completely unrealistic to expect children of any age to be awake, alert, paying attention, and sitting still for hours at a time. They are expected to cram in more information in one day than ever before. Children are learning things in kindergarten and first grade that I didn’t learn until third or fourth. Walk in a straight line. Don’t talk for hours on end. I know adults who can’t do this. Why are we expecting children to do it?
As the years have passed, we have shortened students’ play time more and more. When I was in school, we had a short morning and afternoon break, and a long one midday. That is not the case anymore. Over and over again children are losing time to get their energy out. This leads to behavior issues in class. Children need exercise. They need to run and play. They need fresh air. Give them time to play! And as for middle and high schoolers, just give them time to decompress.
From a young age, children are taught with handouts and coloring pages. This only intensifies throughout school years, except the papers turn into laptops and coloring turns into writing. Most children do not learn this way. Not only is this not the best way for children to learn, it doesn’t give students any sensory input. Children learn best by using their five senses. They need to move their bodies. They need to see and hear, taste and smell. But somehow, Play-Doh has become a rainy day activity, a “Friday afternoon” activity. Dancing, wiggling, clapping, running in place isn’t seen anymore- not even in elementary classrooms. By high school, the only “hands-on” students get is experiments in science class. But yet we are expecting them to know more and more each year. We’ve got to teach students the way they can learn.
In teaching them in a way that makes it difficult for them to learn, children get bored. They begin to fall behind because they aren’t interested. This leads to poor grades, and ultimately, behavior issues. Engagement is important at any age. However, this is rarely taught to aspiring teachers. There are lots of websites and blogs that can help, but teachers have to be willing to look for it. Schools have to stop teaching for test scores. They have to start teaching for the students.
Cater to the Few
It’s hard to do things to help just a few kids. I get it. But sometimes those things can help the many. Things like visual schedules, names on seats, visual lines, and planned activities may only be needed by a few exceptional learners. However, they could end up helping the entire class. All students can benefit from implementing minor things that make life easier for neurodivergent students. By creating small changes to assist exceptional learners, an entire classroom can become much calmer.
Get to Know the Students
Some students benefit from being pushed. Some will shut down. Some students like to speak in front of their class. Others will have extreme anxiety. Some students take longer than others. Some students like a private conversation if they are being corrected. Some are working toward big goals. Others are just trying to get through the day. Many, many behavior issues can be avoided by knowing your students. It takes time. It takes effort. It is totally worth it. By taking the time to get to know them, by taking the time to just talk to them, teachers form a bond with their students. This bond helps to create a positive classroom environment that students enjoy walking into each day. Happy students have, on average, fewer behavior issues. And for teachers who truly get to know their students, that bond lasts for many years.
By this point, other students have picked up on the fact that my boy is always the one in trouble. He gets blamed even when he isn’t involved. The other kids know how to push his buttons. What nobody does is take the time to hear him. He’s smart. While, yes, that typically means he knows what he is doing and that it is wrong, it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be heard. It does NOT mean he should automatically take the blame for everything that goes wrong. Yet it is being framed that way. Somehow, even in elementary school, kids know how to blame others and push others instead of taking responsibility for their own actions.
This Momma’s Heart
My mommy heart breaks every day when I open that folder and see that red mark. It’s so disheartening to know that my son can be “bad.” It’s difficult reading what caused the clip to move. He wants to be good. He tries so hard. By not taking action as a parent, I am doing my child a disservice. I need to be his voice, his advocate. So much more can be done for my son and many like him. And I, for one, will NOT give up on my child.