Sunday, December 2, 2012

6 Reasons Your Child Refuses to Do Homework.

A special post: 

By Marcia Hall



Many parents struggle with getting their child to complete homework after school. Rarely is a child ever anxious to get back to work when he returns home from school, but there are some ways that you can make homework less of a struggle for both you and for your child. To make getting your child to do homework less of a chore, you have to begin with understanding why he is resistant to doing homework in the first place.

He is exhausted from a long day at school
School is exhausting – even more so than it used to be. In the last 10 to 20 years, the needs of children have not changed, however the pace of life has. Most parents are busy and have very little down time, which inevitably means that your child ends up with less down time too. He is going to be less likely to be motivated to work when there is chaos all around him. It is important for parents to model healthy habits so that children understand that, while it is important to work hard, it is also important to take care of yourself.

He is overwhelmed by your expectations of him
Parents want their child to be well rounded and to get ahead in life. Along with this comes getting good grades. All these expectations can put a lot of pressure on your child and may cause him to become burned out and want to find an escape. Focusing on helping your child develop a desire to accomplish his goals is what will help your child succeed in life. Help your child love learning rather than demanding he earn good grades by instilling fear and guilt.

He is not sleeping enough
Sleep is one of the most under-appreciated needs in our society today. When a person does not get enough sleep it can cause him to be sick more often, lose focus, and have more emotional issues. Children often need a great deal more sleep than they usually get. There are many different sleep suggestions, but the most important thing is to make good sleep habits a priority so that your child is able to get the sleep his body needs. This can help him focus more, both in school and at home.

He is over booked with other activities
Parents want their child to develop skills other than academics, and because of this they often sign up their child for extracurricular activities such as sports or arts. While it is important to give your child a chance to try new activities and get exercise, he also needs time to be a child. In order to make sure he has time to play, rest and simply think about life, avoid overscheduling every free moment. Pick one or two activities that he loves and focus on those activities for four months. He can always rotate activities after a few months. Setting this boundary can help him to learn to prioritize what activities are really valuable.

He is addicted to TV and video games
It seems like an obvious point that your child may refuse to do his homework because he loves his TV and video games. Parents often find it very difficult to limit these activities. There may be appropriate times for your child to engage in these activities, however, it is very easy for him to become addicted to them. It is important to understand that playing video games and watching TV does not relax a child’s brain. In fact, it actually overstimulates the brain and makes it harder for a child to learn and retain information. Overuse of watching TV and playing video games may contribute to your child struggling with school and homework in more ways than one.

He does not understand the work and needs some extra help
It is possible that your child does not want to do his homework because he really needs help. It can be challenging for parents to accept that their child might need help with school because there is often a stigma attached to children who need additional help with school work. However, many very bright and intelligent children need help in one area or another. Children learn at different rates and they all excel in different areas. If your child is struggling with math, but excelling in history, it is important to acknowledge that there are also subjects that he is doing very well in. Remember that we all have different things to offer this world. Embrace your child for who he is, what he is good at, AND what he needs a little extra help at.

Homework is a major struggle in many homes, but it does not have to be. Recognizing the reason your child might be fighting it is key to establishing healthy homework habits. By doing this you might find you have fewer battles to fight on that front.

http://www.gonannies.com/blog/2012/6-reasons-your-child-refuses-to-do-homework


Monday, November 19, 2012

Strategies for Challenging Behaviour - Positive Behaviour Support

The number one referral to the administration is typically oppositional or defiant behaviour.  Adults express views that this generation of children is a lot more difficult than earlier generations.  Some teachers believe that it is not their job to teach both behavioural and academic outcomes.  However research shows that a child's behaviour directly affects their academic outcomes.  So if we want to see a positive result for a child who is exhibiting challenging behaviour the first thing that we have to discuss is the factors behind the behaviours. No matter how much we push the academic side without addressing the behavior we will not achieve the results we want until we pursue a holistic outlook. 
Teachers need to carry out a number of tasks and some of those tasks feel insurmountable.  Not only are teachers required to make sure their students are achieving their academic outcomes but we also want students to develop skills so they can make good, healthy responsible decisions and become contributing members of society.  If behaviour management in our classrooms is a struggle than we are not achieving either of these outcomes.    Tuttle and Otten (2011) note that good teachers have both the skills to teach social and behavioural strategies as well as academic outcomes as they have similar learning principles and interventions. 
So what do we do??  It is time to examine our approach to the problem.  Schools punish and suspend but do these strategies really work.  For some maybe, but they still will not teach self-responsibility and control.  Punitive methods may actually create learning counter productive to the goals we want to meet.  Letting go of the "old ways of doing things" and focusing on problem solving and proactive approaches is the key. 
Positive Behaviour Support or PBS is a major initiative developed over the past decade to shift the focus from reactive behaviour management to proactive support.  It is not about providing rewards and consequences but it is a systemic, structured approach to the function of a child's behaviour in relation to many factors - family, environment, health, school, social interaction, etc... It is a flexible approach that embraces scientific methods and interventions that are research based. 
Data gathering plays a critical role in this model.  Through a variety of collection methods a hypothesis and intervention is developed surrounding the function of the child's behaviour.  The premise of PBS focuses on learning what the child is trying to communicate through their behaviour and what needs they are trying to meet.  The intervention is then structured toward helping the child meet the same needs but in a more appropriate way.  Keeping in mind that behaviour will change over time and environment, the intervention is never fixed or static.  It is dynamic and flexible. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Let's Talk Strategies

The first thing that teachers need to understand about classroom management is that we set the classroom up in a way that promotes respect, safety and learning.   Organization, setting routines and procedures, discussing expectations and guidelines is a definite must when beginning a new class or year.  Strategies for classroom organization and management can be divided into three levels or tiers. 

Tier 1:  Refers to those strategies that apply at a whole school level.   All stakeholders need to be dedicated to the creation of this positive and proactive approach.  The Positive Behaviour Support Model states that the following framework needs to be applied to promote safe and respectful environment:

􀂉 Universal Expectations

􀂉 Office Referral Procedures

􀂉 School-Wide Acknowledgement System

􀂉 School-Wide Social Skills Instruction

􀂉 Active Supervision

􀂉 Enforcement of Expectations

􀂉 Data-Based Decision Making

􀂉 Safe & Welcoming Culture

Strategies that may be helpful at this stage include: 

1.       Lesson Pacing:  Rate of instructional delivery and time taken by students to complete a task – Colvin (2009) states that slow instruction and pacing tends to create more off task and disruptive behaviour and good pacing correlates with increased on task behaviour and less disruptive behaviour. 

2.      Prompting:  Hints, cues or gestures prior to engaging the student in the task.

3.      Behavioural Momentum:  Taken from the law of physics – an object in motion will stay in motion until a force is applied to change the state.  If the child is engaged and cooperative in one task, they will typically remain cooperative for the next task.

4.      Pictures and organizational tools:  Visual schedules, transition cues, expectations, classroom guidelines, checklists, self-awareness lists.... Pictures and visuals are meant to increase the student’s comprehension of the required task.  The more students’ can understand and comprehend the less likely they may engage in inappropriate behaviour.  Have the student create their own visuals to support their own behaviour. 

5.      Effective feedback:  Feedback that indicates to the student the required behavioural responses.  Focus on what the student did right and how that behaviour results in positive outcomes. 

6.      Increase participation and movement.  Use techniques like games to increase the opportunities for children to respond appropriately. 

Tier 2:   These strategies are applied when children do not respond effectively to Tier 1 strategies.  Depending on the child, the teacher can immediately apply Tier 2 strategies. 

1.        Create situations and opportunities to practice the appropriate behaviour.   It is important for the teacher to establish a relationship with the student and enters into a supportive role rather than an adversarial role.  This is helpful for students experiencing anxiety and fear related difficulties. 

2.       Context modification:  Change the context that is likely to trigger the problem behaviour.  Have the student complete a modified task with similar outcomes and then try to return to the original context as the student becomes more comfortable with the task. 

3.       Fading:  Allowing the student to complete the task after the interventions or strategies have been found to be successful.  Moving children from dependent to independent is our ultimate goal. 

4.       Minimize errors:  Students who feel incompetent in completing a task may experience anxiety around that task because of the errors they may make.  Present clear explicit directions to the student so they understand the requirements of the task.  Separate work completion from work correction. 

5.       Precorrection or Proactive Intervention:  Determine the triggers that set off the problem behaviour and define the expectations using strategies that could be as simple as cueing or redirection, prompting or effective feedback.  Prepare your transitions as these can be troublesome times for a student with difficult behaviour.

6.       Stimulus control:    There is typically a predictable response to a stimulus as observed over time.  If the stimulus is removed or manipulated this may result in a decrease in the inappropriate behaviour. 

Tier 3 strategies are systematically implemented after a FBA has been completed and a behaviour support plan has been developed.  Some strategies may include:  Social skills training, video modelling, cognitive strategies, anger management, conflict resolution, restorative strategies, Parental involvement, wrap around approaches involving outside agencies.

The goal for Positive Behaviour Support is to encourage growth, self-control, self-awareness, independence, belonging, problem solving and decision making skills.  However as this is being accomplished students will make mistakes and will exhibit non-compliance as they are learning new ways to respond.
Colvin (2009) suggest using the following strategies when confronted with non-compliance and difficult behaviour. 
1.        Continue with the flow of the lesson:  The teacher should continue with instruction unless the student becomes unsafe or becomes severely disruptive.  The stopping of instruction when the student exhibits a particular behaviour will only reinforce that behaviour and it will typically continue. 
2.       Delay Responding or Planned Ignoring:  Address the behaviour but not while it is occurring.   
3.       Redirection Prompts:
4.       Rule Reinstatement:
The first two strategies are referred to as Extinction strategies.  The intention is to reduce the consequence or reinforcer of the inappropriate behaviour.  This reaction by an authoritive individual withholds the consequence which should lead to extinguishing the inappropriate behaviour. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Assessing Non-Compliant Behavior

Non-compliant behaviour can be one of the most stressful issues that present to teachers today.  The constant disruption can interfere with the learning of not only the student with the difficulty but the peers around him/her.  Finding solutions is not an easy task and there is no magic bullet.  A systemic, documented approach is required when trying to determine the reasons a  student may be responding in the way they do.  If an assessment is not completed then the strategies have no basis and the intervention is likely to fail.  Some students may not be following directions because they do not have the appropriate skills to do so.  Other students may have the skills required to complete the task but avoid the task due to another explanation (they would rather do something else). 

Colvin (2009) has laid out a simple chart that defines specific groups of defiant students. 

PROBLEM BEHAVIOUR
“Not following directions”


Assessment

Strategies
Group 1
Lack of skills necessary to complete the task
Focusing on teaching skills or adapt tasks
Group 2
Not attending or attending to something else
Ensure attention is secured before direction is given
Group 3
Students want to avoid the task
Ensure student is able to complete the required task – address motivational factors



As this chart points out there can be many factors that contribute to difficult or non-compliant behaviour.  In order to identify the function or reasons the student is behaving in a particular way , a functional assessment should be completed.  The functional behavioural assessment (FBA) gathers information on all the factors that may be contributing to a student’s behaviour.  The identification of these factors aide the team in implementing a comprehensive intervention plan that can help increase appropriate behaviour while decreasing the inappropriate.  Difficulties can then be effectively managed and disruption to learning kept to a minimum. 

The factors that are contributing to a student’s behaviour needed to be tested and manipulated in order to make them valid.  A student with a bad attitude or naughty cannot be tested and is not specific enough to provide adequate information to design an intervention plan. 

The FBA consists of four different components:

1.        The setting event:  Include earlier events or continuing events that set the stage for problem behaviour.

2.       Immediate triggers (antecedent to behaviour):  These events could occur just prior to the problem behaviour or concurrent with the problem behaviour. 

3.       Problem behaviour:  Identification of the problem behaviour within the setting. ( Can be rated as low level to extreme).   Described in observable terms.

4.       Effects or consequences of problem behaviour:  Assuming the problem behaviour serves a function or purpose, this is where the team will ask the question “What does the student gain or avoid from exhibiting this type of behaviour”.  The student may also receive positive reinforcement from their behaviour – gain a desirable affect, object, response...This behaviour will be reinforced to continue (The student steals something so he/she obtains the object for free or a student is speaking out in class gains the attention of the teacher)  Therefore positive reinforcement can also reinforce inappropriate behaviour.  Negative reinforcement is defined as something that is aversive or undesirable and is removed from the student.  For example... A student does not like math equations so acts out to avoid the math questions.  The student is sent away from the class but avoids the math equations.  She has avoided an aversive task which actually reinforces the behaviour to continue as she does not want to embarrass herself in the future because she does not feel competent in completing the task.
The student enters into this cycle and will continue to exhibit the difficult behaviour until another element is implemented to discourage the difficult behaviour from continuing.
 
To obtain adequate and sufficient data to summarize the underlying factors that contribute to the student’s behaviour, a number of methods can be utilized:  Direct observations, FBA interviews with all stakeholders, teachers, parents, and the student if appropriate. A review of school records is also useful in formulating an intervention.

Understanding Non-Compliant Behavior


Teachers are continually being asked to do more, more, more within their classrooms.  The lack of resources, funds and people are making it difficult for teachers to do their jobs.  Non-compliance has also become highly prevalent within the classroom and teachers have cited this problem as one of the greatest stressors and concerns they encounter.  Colvin(2009) states that non-compliant behaviour has been the overall highest ranking reason for sending students to the office(Pg.7). 
To define non-compliant behaviour certain conditions must be met.
  1.   The student exhibits non-compliance if a person in authority gives a direction and it is not followed by the student.  The person in authority can mean anyone at the school including administrators, teachers, teacher assistants, substitute teacher and volunteers that come into the school.  As we all know some students are only non-compliant with certain people so school personnel must make sure they communicate to all students that they must follow directions and cooperate with any “authorized adult” (as long as the directions are reasonable in nature)  in the building regardless of position. 
  2. Following either implicit or explicit directions given by the “person in authority”.  The teacher must understand that typically students who are exhibiting difficult behaviour respond more effectively to explicit direction as these directions cannot be misinterpreted. 
  3. Directions must be given in a clear concise manner which may help the student understand the expectations.  The language needs to be age appropriate and specific which will also be helpful for the child to complete the required task.
  4. The child must be capable of accomplishing the task that has been asked of them.  The student must have the skills required of him/her to complete to task.  As well the student must believe they are competent in beginning a task that may cause them anxiety.
  5. The tone an instruction is delivered must also be taken into consideration.  The student may perceive the teacher as sarcastic, angry, or disrespectful. 
  6. Ensure that when giving direction student attention is secured.  Disengage the student from what they are currently doing, and present the direction. 
There can be variations of non-compliant behaviour:  Latency, Task completion time, Substandard response, competing reinforcers.  Understanding non-compliance and the student’s response to direction allows the teacher to implement the appropriate strategies and interventions.

Non-compliance can therefore be defined as not completing an instruction or direction in a satisfactory manner.  (Satisfactory manner being defined as a standard set for an acceptable response.)
The following may help to determine whether a response is satisfactory or not:

  1.  Set a standard based on performance of the majority of the class
  2. Ensure the student has the ability to make the response at the level of the rest of the class.
Colvin G. (2009).  Managing Non-Compliance and Defiance in the Classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage Publications.




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