As we continue the 14-day journey through the “non-academic/learning to learn” skills all children need, detailing the skill of flexibility, I just want to remind you that these shouldn’t be complicated. Don’t get overwhelmed, just do what you can. And – if you have questions, make sure to reach out! I’m ready and available to support you during this unexpected break from school!
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Skill #11: Flexibility
I saved the skill of flexibility for further toward the end of our lessons, not because it isn’t important but because it is SO important and I wanted to give you a chance to get comfortable with the idea that you CAN teach at home! The skill of flexibility can be very challenging for so many children.
Let me explain what I mean by flexibility. Flexibility in the school setting (and really all settings) means that kids can do things in a way that’s different than they have learned or would like to do. Sometimes we refer to flexibility as “go with the flow.”
Many times, our kids can show rigidity or inflexibility throughout the school day which can then lead to interfering behavior as well as anxiety in school. The more you can work with your child on “going with the flow”, the more successful they will be. When it comes to being successful socially, we often tell kids to just “talk to your friends.” For many kids, this is not as easy as it sounds. “Just talking” incorporates many more skills than we often realize.
Many kids need each of these skills to be taught separately (just as you would for reading, writing or math). They often need the skill of having a conversation broken down into smaller skills. Today we are going to focus on initiating conversations. This skill is such an important skill for students to be successful in both social settings and classroom settings.
Define the Behavior
Remember, defining the behavior (exactly the way you want them to do it) is so important. It may seem obvious to you, but don’t assume your child knows what your expectations are. An example of defining what initiating a conversation looks like is; (This is just an example, define it any way you want!)
- Turn your body and face toward the person you are trying to initiate with.
- Make sure that you have their attention. (ex: they aren’t talking to someone else.
- Make a comment or ask a question that seems appropriate for the person and situation.
Hint for Teachers: If there is a way that you want parents to initiating a conversation, let them know!
How to Practice Flexibility
- Play board games
- Charades- your child has to start the conversation with a partner
- Look at a book/magazine together. Have your child initiate a conversation with you about what you are seeing.
- Watch a TV show/movie together. Let them know that they will need to start a conversation with you after about what you watched.
- Go for a walk outside and have your child initiate a conversation about what you see.
- If there are siblings in the house, once a day have your child initiate a conversation with them about something they are doing/playing.
- Use conversation starters (many free web-based options) during a meal.
- If your child is doing virtual learning with classmates, give them the challenge to initiate one conversation with each meeting and then share with you.
- While watching a TV show, have them freeze the show every time they notice someone initiates a conversation well.
- During creative/make-believe play, set a goal for their character to initiate a conversation.
- Do role-play showing effective initiation and non-effective initiation and have your child give a thumbs up for effective and thumbs down for less effective.
- With the activity above, if your child identifies it correctly, they get a chance to “fix it” by role-playing the more effective way.
Remember: This can and should be fun and can be done throughout the day!!!
Reinforce the Skill of Flexibility
Setting up a simple reinforcement around this particular skill can be very simple.
Step 1: Define the behavior clearly. Make sure your child knows exactly what you want Staying On-Topic looks like
Step 2: Decide when you want to work on the skill. There is no right amount. Ultimately, your goal should be to make this time doable for you and your child. (you can do it one time a day or more. Whatever works for your family!
Step 3: Decide what kind of reinforcement you want to use and how often they receive it. For example, you might choose to use the following clip up system:
- Draw a picture with different levels.
- Put a paperclip on the side of the paper starting at #1
- When your child initiates a conversation effectively, move the paperclip up one level.
- When your child gets to the top, he/she will earn reinforcement
Step 4: Discuss what the plan is with your child and then stick to it. Consistency is key when it comes to reinforcing behavior!
Take a small step every day- just one small step!
Find More Resources
No matter what your goals are for this time, make sure to check out the other resources I offer for parents and teachers. Then, come back tomorrow and let’s talk about the next skill all children need to know!