My mother says that luck entails being at the right place, at the right time, and using the right words. Taking her advice at face value (which I do), I believe we can help stack our luck, invest in it, so to speak. Here are some suggestions on how we can help our kids stack their luck as they navigate school and friends. I'd love to hear some of your ideas. Please read through and let me know what you do!
Investing in Luck is two-fold. One: prepare your child for what to expect. Two: demonstrate, model and brainstorm how to navigate. Teach your child to understand where to be and when, and how to navigate social, academic, and classroom situations.
Prepare yourself, prepare your child. Preview, brainstorm and role play. The hardest and most important part: Keep your anxiety LOW. This should be tension free - more like an intellectual exercise. Note: You cannot anticipate everything but feeling comfortable with options helps.
Scenario #1: New school. Visit before it begins. Explore together. Walk through the halls, look in classrooms, the gym, playground, nurse's office, and school office. Explain when and why s/he might need to go to the office. Play a game. One type of game may be to take turns thinking of reasons to go there (either real life situations - you forgot your field trip permission slip, can you call home...or silly ones if your child seems tense - you just got accosted in the bathroom by a purple alien who was begging for a grimple).
Scenario #2: Having a parent conference with a teacher/school administrator.
- General or mid year conference: Look through your child’s materials (school work, tests, doctor/specialist report, etc.). Look for trends. Do you like them? If not, this is something to talk about. Read teacher comments. Any questions about them? What about group placement? Does your child seem happy and eager to talk about his or her day in school? If not, yep…another thing to discuss.
- Specific topic/IEP/Disciplinary Conference: Gather information (test results, school work, past reports, etc.). Find out who you are meeting with. Google them or ask friends about their experiences with them. Review all materials relevant to the meeting (Please see my blog about IEP’s if appropriate). You my want to bring an advocate with you if you are asking for particular services. Any relevant medical and/or psychological reports…bring them too.
Scenario #3: Your child is meeting with a teacher/administrator
- Make sure he or she understands the issues (without passing judgements or raising anxiety). Simply analyze and review what the factors are that brought him or her to this place and brainstorm options.
- Once options have been brainstormed, role play. Act out different scenarios. Which one is your child most comfortable with? Go with that one. Have your child visualize this (it will help). Note: don't over process, this will make your child anxious. Discuss, review, and move on (hugs help).
- Know that you cannot anticipate everything, but feeling comfortable with options helps.
- Keep anxiety low. Easier said than done, but super important. Don’t let your fears/anxieties show and don’t over think.
- Take cues from your child. Don’t over think…just prepare.
Scenario #4: Big Report or Assignment Due.
Prepare. As soon as you know of a major project or assignment:
- Break down the assignment into 'manageable' parts based on time available and on intellectual demands.
- Make sure there is a space for your child to work (see previous blog for more on this).
- Coordinate when to make library/supply trips.
- Brainstorm different ways to approach the project. Discuss what it entails, selecting the 'best choice' option.
- Break down the 'best choice' into 'executable' parts. [Make a check list together of what this involves that your child can refer to as s/he works.]
- Get everything down first, then later...refine and edit.
- Edit some more. I know kids hate editing but I can't stress enough how important it is. The first round of editing should focus on word choices and whether their point is getting across clearly. Do the sentences make sense? The second round of editing should check spelling, grammar, word omissions or repetitions. The final round should simply be a read through with to make sure it all still makes sense.
Scenario #5: Social interactions. I cannot stress enough how important it is to prepare your child for social situations. Regardless of where your child is, playground, classroom, school bus, play date, cafeteria, mall, etc., there are your child must keep s/he must learn how to stand, sit, speak, interact appropriately with others. Here are some suggestions on how to stack their "luck" when interacting with others:
- Validate feelings but point out realities (see previous blog for more).
- Brainstorm what may or may not have happened to contribute to the situation- to better understand it.
- Discuss word choices and tones of voice.
- Discuss concept of space and of respecting the space of others.
- Discuss boundaries (setting them and accepting them).
- Brainstorm options.
- Practice/role play best and worst case scenarios.
These are just some ideas and scenarios.. what do you think? What do you do?