My 6-year-old son can read on a third-grade level, finish long chapter books in one night and can multiply. However, he can’t seem to control himself at school.
He is not a bad little boy. He is very loving, very empathetic and always willing to share. But he is very chatty (in his genes) and is also very touchy (also my genetic fault).
In addition to his genetic dispositions, he is a boy with a late spring birthday. I like to credit a lot of the issues to that fact. (We couldn’t redshirt him though for Kindergarten, he’s just too smart to hold back. I think he would be more misbehaved bored.)
For the last two years I have spent way too much time on the phone with teachers hearing about how he is talking too much in circle time or touching other kids in line or in the lunchroom.
His kindergarten teacher was very patient and her mantra was “He will get it.” And by that spring, when his age and maturity caught up with his classmates his conduct grades were finally improving.
But here we are again, new school year, new wonderful teacher and the little guy is in trouble pretty frequently. We’re trying different carrots and sticks at home and at school. But I am frustrated. I just don’t understand why after losing TV, computer and video games for three of the last 8 weeks the kid doesn’t say “Hmm, I guess I’m not going to touch that other kid or talk in the hall.” I’m not sure how to get that decision made in his little head.
(A teacher friend suggests he’s bored and that’s why he’s getting into trouble. I’m talking with his teacher about this theory this afternoon. We’ll see what she thinks.I’m not sure he’s bored in the bathroom. I think there’s just no teacher watching!)
Michael found this story about self-control in The New York Times Magazine. It’s about a new school of thought that believes that role playing frequently and for many years as children, practicing making decision and using cues to help them remember, will help kids learn to have more self-control.
“Over the last few years, a new buzz phrase has emerged among scholars and scientists who study early-childhood development, a phrase that sounds more as if it belongs in the boardroom than the classroom: executive function. Originally a neuroscience term, it refers to the ability to think straight: to order your thoughts, to process information in a coherent way, to hold relevant details in your short-term memory, to avoid distractions and mental traps and focus on the task in front of you. And recently, cognitive psychologists have come to believe that executive function, and specifically the skill of self-regulation, might hold the answers to some of the most vexing questions in education today. “
“The ability of young children to control their emotional and cognitive impulses, it turns out, is a remarkably strong indicator of both short-term and long-term success, academic and otherwise. In some studies, self-regulation skills have been shown to predict academic achievement more reliably than I.Q. tests. The problem is that just as we’re coming to understand the importance of self-regulation skills, those skills appear to be in short supply among young American children. In one recent national survey, 46 percent of kindergarten teachers said that at least half the kids in their classes had problems following directions. In another study, Head Start teachers reported that more than a quarter of their students exhibited serious self-control-related negative behaviors, like kicking or threatening other students, at least once a week. Walter Gilliam, a professor at Yale’s child-study center, estimates that each year, across the country, more than 5,000 children are expelled from pre-K programs because teachers feel unable to control them.”
“At the heart of the Tools of the Mind methodology is a simple but surprising idea: that the key to developing self-regulation is play, and lots of it. But not just any play. The necessary ingredient is what Leong and Bodrova call “mature dramatic play”: complex, extended make-believe scenarios, involving multiple children and lasting for hours, even days. If you want to succeed in school and in life, they say, you first need to do what Abigail and Jocelyn and Henry have done every school day for the past two years: spend hour after hour dressing up in firefighter hats and wedding gowns, cooking make-believe hamburgers and pouring nonexistenttea, doing the hard, serious work of playing pretend.”
The scientists have found that there are rules to pretend play and when kids make other kids play within the rules of make believe they learn self control.
I did start trying some role playing with him last night after reading this article. I’m sure it’s not up to their standards but maybe it will help it stick in his head what he should do if someone wants to play in line or in the bathroom. I’m also going to try to have him run off some energy before he gets on the bus in the morning. She says morning time is hard for him.
So what do you think about these techniques and the concept of learning self control? Is it something that develops with time? Is it something that can be learned or is it all about maturity?
I am very interested in your thoughts on this program and any constructive ideas you have to help me teach my little guy more self control. (Please don’t be ugly about my kid. I’m thrilled to have your ideas and your help, but if you don’t have anything constructive to say just don’t say it.)
(I had router problems yesterday. So, I am giving you two blogs today. The second blog has a bunch of interesting stories I wanted to make sure you all saw. See the blog under this one.)