Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to Deal With Resistance

Today I was back at school reading with kids, and a funny thing happened...two of the kids I worked with tried the avoidance/resistance/"let me read something easier for me" today.

Now, not being my own children, they did this in the most tactful, sly way possible because they either didn't want to hurt my feelings, or they just thought I didn't know them well enough to know what they were trying to do.

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to outsmart this teacher (literally, you really do).

So what did I do?

Well, the first gentleman spied my stack of books on the desk, ignoring the two I had out in front of him to choose from. "OH! Is that a Gerald and Piggie??? I want to read that today!" he exclaimed. I quickly responded with no change in tone or expression, " Hey yes, that is a g and p book! We can read that after we read one of these quickly. Let's really get your mind working and then we can relax with that one!" Sure enough, that sufficed. He knew he would get to read it later, and I would make sure of it.

My second resister was a little more persistant. I told him the same thing, but because we were reading a new Chapter book, he knew we weren't going to read all of it today, so he would ask me after every few pages if that was enough and he could read Gerald and Piggie.

Oh, yes, I know. It is that testing that kids do...they are the best at wearing us down to get what they want. I am guilty -- but not when it comes to reading. I make compromises, but I always make sure I get to the goal I had with them one way or another before that.

My responses varied. Sometimes when he'd ask, I would ask a question to turn his attention and thinking back to the book. Sometimes I would remind him that we would get to it, and I gave him a number of minutes or pages to go. Sometimes, I would start sharing with him how into that part I was and he had to keep going just for me. All of them worked. He read until I said we were done.

I know it is challenging for him. I know he would rather not read this particular book...he doesn't hate it, but it is a lot of thinking...something struggling readers like to avoid. But he needs to be gently pushed. Did I mention he is ADHD too?

Now, I know these boys were not my own kids, so they were nice, and maybe just played along because they had to. But I don't think so. Both are two that ask their teachers constantly when I am coming back.

I also know that if I were working with my own kids, there would be a lot louder resistance and maybe even a tantrum...don't freak or give up if your kids pull this. Stand firm, gentle, and be consistant. Again, they are testing you. They will thank you for pushing them later (maybe much later, but that's the e ticket you get when you become a parent - we signed up for this, I have to remind myself sometimes).

Another thought...many times kids who struggle don't realize how much they HAVE done. Keep a log, a notebook, anything that says how many pages they have read, what books they have finished...we as adults like to have a list of accomplishments -- why can't they? Here's another brainstorm I just had.

I love To Do lists. They keep me from going insane with all that I have to do, and keep me from forgetting things. But they also give me great satisfaction in being able to CROSS OUT what I have done.

Maybe at the beginning of Homework, you do the same. They can cross out what they finished. It will make things seem less overwhelming to take it step by step, and they will feel so good crossing out what has been accomplished. Write a number of pages to be read...when they get there, cross it off the list.

Stick with it. Resistance is just part of it...they will get through it!

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