[twitter]Zacharie is a tough nut to crack. He’s very much like me, hot and cold. If he loves something he loves it, but if he hates something – he shuts right down.
I’m exactly the same way, there is no lukewarm in my world – it’s love and hate.
When it comes to learning new skills: riding a bike, reading a book, eating new food, Zacharie shuts down at the first sign of frustration. If things aren’t going the way he wants them to, he’ll fold his arms up, pout, and refuse to participate.
He’s done it at daycamps, at school, and he pulled the stunt today at his Pedalheads class. When I arrived 90 minutes into the class, he was sitting on a hill. The teacher said he’d been like that for 15 minutes, refusing to participate.
He said the class and park was too noisy, and he couldn’t concentrate. I coaxed him on his bike to show me what he had learned so far in the class, and he bolted off down the hill. We did it again.
With that small measure of ‘mission accomplished’ under his belt, his entire attitude changed. He was smiling, laughing, and boasting for the teacher to ‘look at me!’ He was fine for the rest of the session.
I asked Z’s kindergarten teacher from last year about how he learns thinking that how you teach kids depends on how kids learn.
“If his day can START with a success, the tone is set,” she told me. “Small success, even letting him choose WHERE to work helped a lot. Also, we found if we kept all “tone” out of our voices– kept requests/reminders light and casual, he responded much better. As soon as he sensed negative emotion from us, the odds of pouting increased dramatically.”
I’ve been known to become frustrated trying to get Zacharie to participate, and have changed tactics from coddling, to drill sergeant. Today’s episode, however, showed me that perhaps he needs to have small measures of success to be convinced that something a) is fun b) can be accomplished.
The comments from his teacher confirmed it: I need to change how I encourage him at home, and perhaps he’ll have a better chance at getting engaged and trying to learn.
I don’t want to create an environment where the scoreboard is constantly stacked in my son’s favour so that he’ll find things worth participating in, but it did open my eyes that I should be paying attention to how my son learns as the key to how to teach him.
He left the class eager to try his new skills, and come back the next day and learn some more.
Aside: Having cooperative relationships with your child’s teacher can be so valuable. The fact I was able to send a tweet to my son’s teacher from last year in the middle of summer vacation to ask this question was just so so so wonderful.
Social media access to a teacher should not be taken advantage of, nor exploited, but having a ‘working relationship’ with educators about your children is crucial. They are professionals. They understand learning, teaching, and (to some extent) parenting better than you or I.