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10.22.2011

A light in the attic

Tio has struggled with his self contol issues over the past year (as well described throughout my chronicles) and lately it's been over keeping control of his actions and behavior in the classroom. He arrived in 7th grade with an attitude that it was just another extension of elementary school where he could play class clown, chat in whispers with his friends and otherwise deprive everyone around him of their education. Within weeks he was getting detentions and written up by teachers without really understanding why. He always had someone else to blame and didn't like being lumped in the the "losers" (his word) in detention. Time to intervene.

First thing was to explain that he didn't have to be like them, he could be his own person. Secondly, the teachers expected more than ever before both in workload and attention span. Then I spoke with the teachers and came up with a plan. At the end of each class he would get a score from 1-5 on how much self control he showed.

The first week, last week, he did well enough. But the novelty wore off this week and he slipped, especially in science and math, even though going to Friday night's dance hung in the balance. Now, as all parents can attest these kinds of deals are fragile. If your kid fails early on, they might figure it isn't worth the trouble and drop it altogether. So I doubled down last night and said, "you get a 5 in math and I'll pay for the dance, too."

He came home with a 5 in math. Really pleased but surprised, I asked how he did it. "I acted like I was really depressed and didn't talk to anyone," he said. "It was no fun at all."

"Bingo! Welcome to school. You aren't there to have fun. It's about learning. Save the fun for outside of class. That may be depressing now but if you get into it, the learning can be fun all on it's own."

This is such a glimmer of light at the end of a long winter. I sure hope we can build on it.