Friday, September 19, 2008

Sunny Days

This week my son had his first visit with the school principal because he was having a hard time keeping his hands to himself and sitting still and listening to the teacher. I don't know what the principal told him at their meeting, but he has been completely reprogrammed into a sweet, mild-mannered, well-behaved kid . . . at school anyway. I will have to call and talk to the principal about it because: a) I need to know her secret to dealing with this problem behavior; and b) I would like to ask her if she can move in with us so he will be better behaved at home. Whatever she did, it certainly can't be as bad as my grade school principal and her ear pulling and hairbrush. Catholic school was harsh. Kind of like the television show "Survivor" with nuns.

My son's kindergarten class has now adopted a new "classroom behavior philosophy" and a "classroom management plan". The plan is based on weather symbols: sunny, partly cloudy and rainy. Each child begins with a sunny card in a pocket chart. If behavior expectations are not met, the first consequence is a verbal reminder from the teacher.

The second consequence is that the sunny card is removed and replaced with a party cloudy card. The behavioral expectation is stated, and if the child's behavior again meets expectations, the sunny card is put back in the pocket.

The third consequence is that the partly cloudy card is removed and replaced with a rainy card. Behavioral expectation is restated and "think time" is given. A note is sent home or a phone call is made. If the behavior improves, the teacher puts the sunny card back in the pocket.

The fourth consequence is that the rainy card is removed and the child conferences with administration and a phone call home is made. If the behavior improves, the sunny card will again be put back in the pocket.

Whatever your child's behavior was that day, a "sunshine ticket", "partly cloudy ticket" or a "rainy ticket" will be sent home in their folder. We are supposed to give praise for a good day or encouragement for a difficult day.

This sounds like a good system to me. However, I think the best part is that the teacher has also decided that the kids need to work together to reward positive individual and class behavior. If the entire class stays on a "sunshine ticket", they earn a "link". When they have 10 "links", they get a reward like "game day" or "free choice time".

My son is so psyched about this, he is almost killing himself to be good so he gets a sunshine ticket each day. So far, he's gotten a sunshine ticket two days in a row. He doesn't want to let his class down. He's cool like that.

The only bad thing about it is that he is working so hard to be good at school, when he gets home, he has a complete meltdown. Living in this house is kind of like being on a wild rollercoaster ride that just never ends.

I've got no choice but to hang onto the rollercoaster and hope and pray for sunny days.

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