You’re never really ready when the call comes. After dropping your little ones off at school you go about your day, expecting they are going about theirs too. You picture them eagerly learning, chatting with friends, sneaking a lunch trade and maybe getting a little too wild once in a while. But then sometimes the “once in a while” turns into “too often”. That’s when your phone rings (Or at least that’s when my phone rings. I assume I’m not alone here.)
The teacher on the other end of the phone adores your kid (even if you forget that during this particular phone call) but there is some kind of problem that keeps happening. She needs your help. She needs your support to guide your little one through this life lesson.
But wait… how do you help when you are not even there?
You’ve done your best to set your kids up for success. You’ve built their confidence, made sure they got to bed at a decent hour, fed them a healthy breakfast. but how can you help with this specific problem? By the time the backpacks are hung up and the lunch boxes are unloaded the events of the day will be a distant memory.
You and I both know from experience that the best way to address an issue is when it happens… so how can we help without being there?
I’ll tell you what’s worked for us…
In our house conflict resolution is a go to for working out problems. It shines for sibling squabbles but also works great for other family issues.
We’ve used conflict resolution for solving serious issues like how can Mom get work time and everyone else still feel like she’s present for them (I’ll write about the brilliant results of that another time). We’ve also used it for less serious things like choosing how to spend a precious hour of family time when everyone wants to do something different.
The great thing about conflict resolution is that because everyone gets a say in the solution… everyone is willing to make sure the solution actually works!
As it turns out conflict resolution is wonderful in supporting the teacher too!
Conflict Resolution Techniques (Modified for at School Support)
Step 1. Do some research. Make sure you understand the problem. In order to help your little one find a solution, you really need to understand the problem… from both sides. Ask the teacher a lot of questions before talking to your kid. What specific behavior is causing the problem? Why is it a problem? What specific behavior does she want to see instead? The more you know the easier it will be to hone in on the exact problem needing to be solved. (TIP: Don’t just assume you know the answer to these questions. Her reasoning could be completely different than what you think.)
Step 2. Listen to your kids’ side. It might be really clear to everyone that talking while the teacher is talking is not okay. But do you know why he’s talking? Maybe someone is talking to him first or maybe he has some really important insights to share. Making sure he feels heard before nailing down the problem will go a long way to making this a productive conversation. (Plus it will help in finding a workable solution.)
Step 3. Agree on the problem. Before you can find a solution your little one must agree that the problem is a problem. This might take a little extra explanation. If he is having a hard time understanding why talking in group is such a big deal, you might roll play what it feels like to be interrupted while you are trying to speak. You need him to really understand that this is a problem.
Step 4. State the problem. It’s important that the problem is boiled down to one or two sentences. “The problem is that you have been talking at the same time as Mrs. S during group. Do you agree that this is the problem?”
Step 5. Finding a solution. As hard as it might be, let your little one come up with the solutions. It’s important the solutions are something he believes in. You can certainly help and point out reasons that an idea might not work. When we do this at home we only need one working solution because I am right there to help workout a new one if the first one is a bust for some reason. For this situation I like to come up with a few options. I think 3 possible solutions feels like a good amount.
Step 6. Write out the solution. You can do the writing or you can have your kid do the writing, either way make sure the solutions are on paper. This way you can come back to them easily.
Step 7. Confirm the solutions with the teacher. This will accomplish a couple of different things. You will all be on the same page and the teacher can support the solutions you’ve found (or edit them if need be). It will also let her know that you are actually helping. She may not see results right away but she will know for sure that she is not alone in this.
Step 8. Follow up. This is where it gets really fun. Now instead of asking about the problem… you get to ask about the solutions! “How did your solutions work out today? Was it easy to follow through with them or should we work on finding a few more?” Doesn’t that feel so supportive and wonderful?!?!
Are you a teacher? This might be a good link to pass on to the parents at your school. 😉