coaching, reading and writing skills, story writing

Writing stage two: The writer stays in control.


The writing Roles of ‘writer’ and ‘editor’ help keep your writer in control of their writing. 

 

hainvg fun learning

Dear families.

Many of us have a tendency to believe that we know more than our children…and often we are right, but in the case of writing stories I can’t emphasize enough the importance of NOT taking over your child’s writing because you believe that you have better ideas! Before you know it, you will be writing for them, or dictating what they should write. How does that help them find their own writer’s voice?

When the child is writing a story, their role is that of ‘The Writer’ and so they must keep control of their writing, which includes choice about what and how they write.

You are ‘The Editor’. You are often the expert about spelling and grammar and can help them with proofreading their work.

Another important role as ‘The Editor’ is to motivate them by offering writing suggestions, but you do not decide or pressure them about what they will write so please remember to suggest possible plots and scenarios and characters in a way that they do not feel pressured to accept them.

Only make suggestions relevant to them. People write more expressively and in more detail about what they know about. They can base adventure stories and fantasy on scenarios and with people they know well. The best stories are based around skills the writer has, such as riding a scooter or skate board or bike, and they are set in areas they know well, and with characters based on people they know. For example, my students have written about creatures from outer space but set the landing of their space-craft in their town. They have written about a young spy based on themselves and friends, and  using events happening at school or at their home. They have written about fairies living in a piece of wilderness, or by a stream, or in a garden they know well. They went snorkeling and then wrote about a fantasy world under the sea.

In order that  I don’t take over the writing I pause in between suggestions, to give them a moment to think whether that idea would work for them. After offering two or three suggestions I often pause again to discuss why they don’t like those ideas, or do like them but have reservations about them. Then I can make suggestions closer to what they want. If they don’t like any of my ideas I stop discussing writing until the next suitable coaching time. Remember…no pressure!

When ideas start flowing write them down immediately. Flow charts and mind-maps as well as lists are useful ways to get ideas down onto paper. If your child is not at all keen to write, you can write story ideas down as they tell you. The time spent thinking up ideas and then ordering these ideas is valuable and often underestimated. Successful adult writers often spend a lot of time thinking before they write.

A simple way I often use with writers is to have a piece of paper folded width-ways into three parts which you head up with “Beginning, Middle, and End”, then ask them to write down very briefly what happens. I always lean heavily on the question starters ‘what, where, when, who, why, and how.

Under the Beginning you can ask them to describe where and when the story takes place and who is in it. For example, Where are you? When is this happening? What can we see? What can we hear? Who is with you? How old are you in the story? The beginning is where the writer introduces their character(s), describes the background the character(s) are moving around in, and may even jump right into the middle of the difficulties those in the story are experiencing What is happening? What do you do?

The main action happens in the Middle so “What happens next? What terrible or exciting, or weird thing happens now? What trouble do they get into? How do they solve that problem? are good questions to ask. This is where the hero(es) solve a crime or mystery or have an adventure or series of adventures where they overcome difficulties.

Endings can be difficult if not thought through in the planning stages, and a satisfying ending is very important when you are telling a story. How can we end it? and What will happen at the end? are useful questions to ask.

The good thing is that this planning process can be on-going, and indeed the first ideas can be discounted and radically changed at times as the characters develop and change and as twists and turns of the plot reveal themselves. Get the writer to quickly jot down new ideas on their planning page as they occur.

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails.

Warmly,

Anne

 

 

homework, learning and remembering, Uncategorized

Tips for successfully helping children develop the homework habit.


Help your child develop the homework habit

how to help your child with homework

Time spent together is precious. As well as homework time to practise skills they are learning in school, children need time to play, read,  chat with you and with their friends, help out in the house, and have free, unstructured  time to explore and enjoy their world. Homework time when you sit down together might be one of the precious moments you have with your child over a busy day.

I definitely don’t think they should watch lots of TV or video games or be on the net for long periods of time. I challenge you to check how much time your child is spending in the virtual world this week. Count the hours – they might dismay you. Then do something to change that. Give them more homework perhaps! Homework does not all have to come from the school, you can create it too. Just make it relevant to your child’s interests and skill level.

Homework and what it is and does. Some of you think that homework isn’t important at all.  Research has shown that families who help their child practise the skills at home that they are learning at school are making a positive difference in how well they perform in the classroom. If they are not getting much from their teacher, I suggest you create some regular practise time for them at home. Perhaps your definition of homework is too limited. It is not all about drills, although some of it might be. Include reading interesting books together, writing stories that get published and read by family and friends, completing regular revision of maths they are learning in class, cooking, building structures and machines, and exploring their environment whether it is an urban or rural one, with them. Here are some suggestions on ways you can work respectfully and successfully with your child.

I guess we all agree that the younger the child, the less time the child should be expected to spend on homework. A general rule of thumb is that children do 10 minutes of homework for each year level – but I personally think homework should be capped at about an hour for children under the age of 12.

Regular homework can change their lives. You might begin the homework habit with them and then let it drop as your life becomes busy again, or when a child becomes sick or when you are all tired for a few days in a row. In fact, you might be the one who does not carry through with homework. I encourage you to persistently pick up the homework habit again when you let it drop and continue adding value to your children’s present life and their future ones. As I have heard from many parents who persistently encouraged their children’s interests and skills, those children have later been able to create future work or wonderful past-times because of the childhood interests you encouraged during homework time. Here are more ideas to organise for successful homework times.

Ideas to discuss with your child to make homework time pleasant.

Have established homework routines. Establish clear routines around homework, including when and where homework gets done. Daily routines not only make homework go more smoothly, but also foster a homework habit your child will continue to use later at high school and university.

Some children do best at a desk in their bedroom where it is quiet and they can concentrate easily.  Other children become too distracted by the things they keep in their bedroom and do better where you can monitor them easily. Work with your child to decide on a mutually agreed upon location.

Your child should get in the habit of doing homework at the same time every day. Some children need a break right after school to get some exercise and have a snack. Others need to start homework right after school while they are still in school mode. In general, it is a good idea to get homework completed as soon as possible, either before dinner or straight after, so they are not too tired. The later it gets, the more tired the child becomes and the slower the homework gets done.

Simple incentive systems. Some children need to receive some sort of external reward because the pleasure felt when work is completed is not quite enough for them.The simplest incentive system is reminding the child of a fun activity to do when homework is done. It may be a favorite television show, a chance to spend some time with a video or computer game, talking on the telephone or face-time, or playing a game with a parent. Use a ‘when and then’ sentence. Tell them, “When you have finished….homework then you can….”. Having something to look forward to is usually a powerful incentive to get the hard work done. The simple incentive of fun times after the work is done are usually enough, but some children need a little more incentive than that to complete homework.

More complex incentive agreements. These involve more planning and more work on your part and work best when you and your child develop them together. This gives them a sense of control and ownership, making the system more likely to succeed. Your child will usually be realistic on deciding rewards and penalties when they are involved in the decision-making process. Here are some ideas how to create win-win deals with your child. The agreement might include a system for earning points that could be used towards accessing a privilege or reward, or receiving pocket money, or gaining access to the internet, or saving towards buying something expensive they want.

Build in breaks for when they need them. Discuss with your child how long the breaks will last and what will be done during the breaks. Keep them short. Here are more ideas on creating breaks when your child is reluctant to work with you.

Build in choice. Check out more ideas on offering choice. Building in choice not only helps motivate children but can also reduce power struggles between parents and children.

Check out other ideas to make homework time more fun for you both.

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post and share this post on Facebook with other like-minded families.

Warmly,

Anne

 

coaching, homework, teens, Working with teens

Your teen and you – No 4 – time to create a win-win deal


teen and parent negotiating

It’s time to get down and decide a win-win deal together and take turns speaking and listening to each other. For negotiations to be successful  create a situation where your teen will stay comfortable and alert enough to listen closely to you. The most important thing you can do is to keep any of your positive or negative emotions out of the negotiation. Instead aim to be helpful and positive about the agreement you are negotiating, but in a businesslike fashion, even when they are derailing the negotiation.

Here are my best tips when negotiating with teens:

  1. With teens who are extremely private, don’t stare in their eyes, stand higher than them, or even stand or sit very close to them. They might find that close proximity threatening and too personal. Instead, position yourself so that you can glance at or towards them occasionally.
  2. Speak briefly in short and simple sentences.
  3. Speak in a low, quiet, businesslike voice.
  4. Speak slowly and pause briefly between sentences, checking they have understood what you are saying.
  5. When they seem easily distracted, you might ask them to repeat your main ideas in a mild and helpful voice. Listen closely to their responses,
    • and if necessary briefly repeat any information they might not have heard, understood, or remembered.
    • Then check again that they have understood and remembered what you have said. Helpfully repeat this sequence until it is clear they are paying attention.
  6. If they interrupt you while talking you can choose to either stop talking briefly to listen closely to them to understand their concerns, or ask them to remember that point for when you are finished talking.
  7. There will be a time to ask for their opinion of what you have said. Listen closely to understand. Repeat what they have said until they feel you have understood them, then discuss any concerns they might have.
  8. Sometimes it is helpful when deepening your understanding of each others’ concerns to write down what those concerns are in a pros and cons list.
  9. Only accept win-win solutions or there is no deal. You both have to be relatively happy with the agreement otherwise you have one winner and one loser. However, the perfect agreement is hard to reach and you both might have to compromise on some of the things you wanted. Still, if you are both happy enough with the deal, then you have created a deal you can both live with.
  10. Take your time to find an agreement you both believe is the best possible one you could find. Sometimes you may negotiate for several days until you are both happy. There is no hurry to come to an agreement.
  11. Remember that all privileges relating to the agreement as  consequences are suspended until an agreement is reached. At some point this will negatively affect your teen and they will want solutions decided so that they can have their privileges back.

Put the final agreement in writing then you and your teen can always refresh your memories as to what was agreed. However, you can both agree to modify this agreement as you go along because situations change. I want to warn you that your teen might know you better than you realise. Many are shrewd negotiators who might push you to change agreements with them before you have had time to think coolly and calmly about what you really want, and what your bottom lines are.  So check out my suggestions on working with teens before you agree to any changes

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post or follow me on Twitter; and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families.

Warmly,

Anne

coaching, homework, Working with teens

Positive Discipline 5: When it all goes wrong it’s severe consequences time.


how to negotiate homework with your teenWhen it all goes wrong – severe consequences step in.

Severe consequences are for when your child’s negative behaviours continue beyond acceptable limits after other consequences have been used consistently, and after two strong warnings.

 

Severe consequences are not punishments! Some or all of these consequences happen immediately and are non-negotiable; but at no point are they a punishment. Remember that your child is choosing and is usually more in control of their behaviours than we (and even they) probably realise. They also will be testing the boundaries and seeing if you stay firm and keep your end of the agreement.

Stay calm and take action immediately.

  • Down tools and stop coaching for that day. Walk away and have a calm and pleasant time without your child. You can shut yourself into a room if you can’t actually ‘walk away’. Removing yourself from the situation helps you stay calm, and also immediately stops escalation of any further arguments or discussion with your child. Being briefly alone is a time to think about what happened, and what needs to change. Think about your own thoughts and behaviours as well as your child’s. You are in control of your thoughts and actions aren’t you?  Changing what you are think and do will often change your child’s behaviour.
  • You can stop coaching and all agreed-upon privileges for longer than a day until you have decided what you will do to help your child develop ‘good student’ behaviour and stop ‘bad student’ behaviour. When you remove privileges until coaching resumes, your child will realise that when you said that privileges they receive depend on how they behave, you actually meant what you said.
  • Take as much thinking time as you need to decide what needs to change. Ask yourself, “What can I change to help my child develop into a good student?” Often the changes you decide to make are small ones that are surprisingly effective. Focus on what is within your power to change. For example, after checking your own behaviour and responses to your child, look at the positive and negative consequences in place, and the time and place you coach in. Gather ideas from trusted advisers around you, and read my other posts. My book ‘How to coach your children to be excellent students’ also has useful and easy to use strategies that can stop many negative behaviours children use.
  • Make a new coaching agreement or amend the old one with your child if you realise that the coaching agreement was not working well because it did not cover all important circumstances, or did not have effective consequences.

Tips
Tend towards being neutral with your attitude and words. Don’t gloat, blame, or ;feel particularly upset when they choose a negative consequence. Instead, use a neutral tone, and statements that include “you just chose to…” so that responsibility is clearly placed with your child, and you are never in the position of the nasty punishing coach.

Don’t be overly enthusiastic, encouraging, or relieved when your child chooses ‘good student’ behaviour. Instead praise briefly using a matter-of-fact and business-like tone. Then you give your child the message that ‘good student’ behaviour is normal student behaviour.

Save warm and extended praise for big changes in behaviour that are consistently happening for a while.

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails because I only write every week or so as I’m very busy working with children and their families, tending and growing my own life, and writing my book.

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible so hello fellow Twitter user! Don’t forget to Tweet this post if you like it, or follow me on Twitter if you find me interesting. Keep spreading my ideas and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families so they too can develop the skills to create exceptional children in their families.

Warmly,

Anne

coaching, goal-setting, homework

A positive discipline approach part 2: Fair agreements and consequences


A definition of consequences I like is, ‘something that follows as a result.

teaching your chilod to succeedWe create our own consequences in our lives. An excellent example of this for yourself as a parent is the positive changes you can create in your life when you focus on what you can change rather than what is beyond your control.

A fair and consistent coaching agreement is within your control and is the foundation of a successful and respectful positive discipline approach. A fair coaching agreement describes exactly what behaviours you expect from your child, what support they can expect from you, and all the related consequences.

Behaviours and their consequences must be clearly described so there is no room for disagreement, confusion, argument or disappointment and frustration. For example any ‘good student’ behaviour is behaviour that helps your child work well when being coached, and any ‘bad student’ behaviour is behaviour that stops them from working well. You can decide together what exactly  ‘good student behaviour’ and ‘bad student behaviour’  is; and then come to agreements about all the related consequences. I adapted ideas from The Assertive Discipline method  which has been written to help teachers control behaviours in classrooms, so that families can use many of the excellent ideas Lee Cantor describes at home with their children.

A consequence definition: Something that happens as a result of a particular action or set of conditions. Find ways to give lots more positive acknowledgement and recognition of ‘good student’ behaviour, while still including negative consequences for ‘bad student’ behaviour. We often stop noticing the positive things our children are doing because we are so worried about the negative unhelpful things. If you don’t like the ‘bad’ and ‘good’ terms, you can find other words that work better for you. For instance, depending on the child, I might describe their behaviour as ‘acting like a mature student’ or ‘not acting maturely’ or I might use age as a measure and say that they are ‘acting nine years old’ or ‘acting younger than their age and three years old’.

I have found that positive discipline works for anyone. I use it with very young children, teens, young adults, and those children and young adults with disabilities. A strong belief underlying it is that our children choose moment by moment how they will behave; and even when a student seems to be out of control and seems unable to behave as a ‘good student’ does, they at some point choose to lose control and act badly, and so are still responsible for their actions. Read part of a series of emails exchanged with one of my families as they reclaimed their parenting power .

I believe that we adults often underestimate our children’s awareness and intelligence. I am still amazed at how fast a child can make radical changes in behaviour when they really do want the positive consequences and do want to avoid the negative consequences.  I have found that  children with disabilities are especially allowed to behave in ways that are considered unacceptable for children without disabilities. Don’t treat them as unable to change their behaviours. Maybe you think you are being most loving but perhaps instead you are limiting their options with your beliefs, and actually being disrespectful. Even the most extreme seemingly compulsive behaviour may be able to be modified. In my experience with my daughter who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and with other children and young adults with disabilities, many consciously and deliberately make choices about how they will act, even when that does not seem the case at the time; and when there are clear agreed-upon positive and negative consequences for their actions, behaviours that they seemed unable to change, are changed.

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails because I only write every week or so as I’m very busy working with children and their families, tending and growing my own life, and writing my book.

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post or follow me on

Twitter; and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families.

Warmly,

Anne

 

goal-setting, homework, Working with teens

Negotiating homework with your teen: Part 4 – How to still negotiate when it is hard


How to be a shrewd negotiator with your teen.

When agreement about homework is not easily reached, sit back and listen more closely.

negotiating with your teen
Listen closely to understand your teen

Deeply understand what your teen is saying and doing before you open your mouth to speak. When/if they become unhappy with the deal you are negotiating at any point… stop talking and take a deep, slow breath. Never, ever argue with them! You will always lose even if you seem to win. You will lose your temper, your composure, the argument, the homework agreement you were trying to make with your child, etc..

If they have difficulties with anything you are suggesting, take as much time as necessary, at a time you are both able to listen to each other, to listen closely to your child. When they know you deeply understand their position and concerns, they will be able to to listen to your thoughts and concerns. Then you will both be able to find mutually satisfactory solutions together.

Important grounds for successful negotiation.

1. Negotiate when you are both ready. Find a mutually agreed upon time to listen closely. Make it a time when you are both not feel rushed, or tired, or upset, then you will both be more likely to just listen without defending or attacking. Even if things become a little heated, you will both still be able to think clearer and stay reasonably polite.

2. Have a firm ‘bottom line’. For example if you want them to improve their reading skills as quickly as possible, you might decide that 30 minutes reading a night five nights a week is a good beginning. I seldom shift from my bottom line, because I believe that it is what is required for my student to achieve well. However, stay flexible still, and if after discussion 30 minutes seems too much for them, you can agree to 20 minutes with the proviso that next negotiation time you want it to raise to 30 minutes. Next negotiation time can be any time you consider they are enjoying reading more, and reading more easily.

3 Ask more from them than you expect to get. Then be willing to negotiate down from there. I also make sure that they somehow get what they really want. When you listen closely to your child, you will learn more about them, their worries, and their goals. Continue to take into account their concerns as you negotiate.

4. Keep negotiating until the homework deal between you and your child is extremely clear for both of you.

The conversation might go like this:-
“I’d like to help you become a better reader, would you like this?”
Child responds and you listen carefully.
If they respond with ‘yes’ you can continue negotiations using  questions about how long/how often/what books/when and where we’ll read. Remember to check in with them and see if they really agree after each question.
For example:
“What about we read together after school most days for 20 minutes. Is that okay with you?”
“I’d like to read together five times a week. Do you think we can?”
“Would you like me to take turns reading (share-read) with you and then we can pick a book that is harder but more fun. What do you think?”
“Would you like to read at the table or on the sofa?”

If they respond with ‘no’ at any p0int, listen closely to what they are worried about and then together find solutions that suit you both. A successful negotiation is when you are both happy with the agreement reached.

Some of their concerns might be that:

You will want to read boring books with them. Assure them they have to agree with the choice of book and that they are to pick one that is fun for them.
You will lose your patience and be critical of them. Promise them that you will do your best to be a good coach. Tell them you are learning how to coach and might make mistakes. Come to deals as to how you will both handle difficult situations so they feel safe and in control too.
It is hard it is for them to read for an extended length of time. You can negotiate a shorter time, or offer to share read with them.
They might not want to miss play time or television. Take their concerns seriously, and find solutions that you are both happy with.

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails. I only write every week or so. 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible, so please Tweet this post or follow me on

Twitter; and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families.

Warmly,

Anne

 

 

goal-setting, homework, Working with teens

Your teen and homework : Part 5 – further tips with respectful negotiation


Stay respectful with your teen throughout the whole homework negotiation process, and never give up!

how to negotiate homework with your teenDon’t hurry homework negotiations. Even when feeling provoked, impatient, annoyed, attacked…stay respectful. If the atmosphere becomes tense between you both, slow down the negotiating process, but without intending it to stop. Believe that there is no hurry – that time is still on your side even in the face of their tight deadlines and impending exams, and you will relax and stay calm and sure of yourself.

When you step back from the negotiating process a little, you are giving your teen  the room to think about why you are wanting them to do more homework on particular subjects.  This gives them time and space to face their own fears and concerns about failing that they have perhaps buried, without the pressure of defending their perceived right to keep everything as it is.  Let them know that you are still negotiating, but that you are letting them have time to think. Your teen will appreciate your calmness and persistence, and at some point walk towards you and begin to negotiate. To stay persistent, remind yourself why homework is important.

When they do walk towards you again…..Keep negotiation times as brief as you can, and be prepared to negotiate over time, which also gives your the time to think things through before you agree to a deal. Take your time, especially when your child is an excellent and ruthless negotiator. I suggest you confer with a more skilled negotiator in between negotiations to make sure you are getting teh clearest and most useful deal you can, and that all loopholes are closed.

What do they really really want? Think carefully about ways more homework can be an inviting prospect for your teen. A good sales person doesn’t pressure, she invites. So make the deal you are offering your teen at least one of the following:- worth their while, interesting, or enjoyable. This approach works particularly brilliantly with stubborn children and teens who want to stay in control, but I tend to use it with all students whatever their age, because it gains their permission to  do homework they mightn’t want to do, but that they know they should be doing in a respectful and gentle way. Here are some more ideas on negotiating with respect.

Offer something they want when they are particularly reluctant to work with you. It is perfectly okay to involve pocket money, extra computer time, use of the car, and anything that your teen particularly wants and you don’t mind giving, as part of the negotiation process.

Start small. Don’t offer too much of anything. Allow some room for your child to negotiate up.
Remember – no coercion. Always get permission. When a student says ‘no’ at any point, my first response is to say ‘okay’ and my next is to ask with great interest, ‘why is that?’ Then I listen very closely to understand. When I have listened well and thoroughly understood any concerns, we can always begin finding possible solutions that work for us both.

 

I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible so hello fellow Twitter user! Don’t forget to Tweet this post if you like it, or follow me on Twitter if you find me interesting. Keep spreading my ideas and share this post and the excellyourchild.com website with other like-minded families so they too can develop the skills to create exceptional students in their families.

Warmly,

Anne