Monday, October 04, 2004

Attitude Trial

So, into another week of school. I'm finding the Science Unit very easy to teach at the moment. Reagan seems to suck up information like a sponge directly from books. So, I'm having him read books about the animals we've chosen to study. When he's done we'll make a book of them for him to keep.

I've also found that he feels very strongly about grades. I really could care less about grading at this point, but he works harder if he knows a grade is involved, so I've decided to start grading his final tests in Spelling and Math. I haven't figured how I'll grade for Reading and Writing, I have a feeling a lot of that grade will be based on effort. It means more to me that he's putting his all into his education.

Attitude has been a big stumbling block for him. He's so much like me, easily frustrated. In school I decided that it was easier never to try than to fail. As a homeschooler, he doesn't have that option. Explaining, talking, even "time-outs" failed to bring about the calmer spirit I'd hoped to bring out in him, or me as I get so frustrated by his frustration (great, huh?). So, I've had to become more creative. I started by teaching him some relaxation techniques, such as breathing. I explained that these things would increase oxygen to his brain and help him to think better. But the thing that's really making a difference is our new subject: Attitude. I've made Attitude one of his school subjects. Every week he'll start with 100 points. Every time he acts out on feelings of frustration (by crying, hitting himself in the head, yelling, or breaking down) I will begin counting and keep counting until he stops. That number is subtracted from 100. At the end of the week there is a reward or a consequence. Scores break down like this:

100-90 = Pizza night

89-80 = Ice cream out

79-70 = He owes me 25 written lines "I will have a good attitude"

69-60 = 50 lines "I will have a good attitude"

59 or below = 75 lines "I will have a good attitude"

He really wants Pizza and he really doesn't want to write lines. It worked really well today. I just hope it keeps up. How can teachers do it? How can they be creative to meet the needs of 20+ kids? That sounds exhausting to me.

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