It is back to school season, and with that comes the usual challenge with getting back into a routine, classroom rules, and the dreaded behavior charts. In my perfect world all teachers would understand a few things about behavior so that the classroom was not such a place of struggle, and instead was a place to thrive.
I wish my child’s teacher knew:
There is a strong connection between the brain and body and behavior. The brain receives information from the body via the sensory and motor systems. This means that if my child is overloaded with too much sensory information, you may see “bad” behaviors. Think of it as a traffic jam on the highway. Imagine being stuck in a traffic jam. You can see your exit, but you can’t get there as you are stuck. Now pretend you need to use the bathroom or are getting hungry. How might you react during this traffic jam? Would you get frustrated, angry, distracted?
This is what happens to a child’s brain when there is too much information coming in at once. It makes things difficult to process, they often feel overwhelmed, and the behavior you see is a result of that. This doesn’t mean that they are bad kids, but it does mean they are struggling.
Incorporating sensory tools in the classroom, having a quiet corner, and redirecting behavior are all positive tools to help the brain regulate.
I know teachers want students to be quiet and sit still. I know recess time and physical education are often the first things cut when academic scores are poor. However, you are seeing my child move because that is what their brain needs. An increase in movement and recess has been shown to improve test scores and decrease disruptive behaviors in the classroom. Both of these things lead to more time to actually teach! Increasing movement throughout the day such as movement breaks, yoga, class walks, and recess games all help to prepare the brain for learning.
Yes, my child might be the one that talks out of turn, cannot sit still during morning meeting, struggles to get their work done, or disrupts your classroom in other ways. Please know I am trying my hardest. It helps if I receive concrete suggestions on things to do to help my child-rather than generic ideas. I read every note, and I know it is not easy for you. I would love to hear the positive things about what my child is doing in the classroom as well. We love to celebrate the “wins” no matter how small. Communicating without criticism is key to moving us forward.
I know teachers have their plates overflowing with low pay, large classroom sizes, and high standards to keep their jobs. In the meantime, if you see my child disrupting your class: make them move their body, suggest a strategy, or redirect them elsewhere. I know this is really tough to do in today's educational climate. Many teachers do these things every single day, but many do not.
I would love to have a teacher that works with our family to make my child a stronger, happier, more adaptable kid. If you have any wisdom to share, please spread it around.