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Positive Behavior Plan
Q: My kindergartner can't work independently at school. I've had many meetings with his teacher and she recommends that I give him work to do independently at home. At home he does his work fairly quickly, but at school he becomes easily distracted. Any suggestions?
A: As you know, there is a big difference between doing work at home with just Mom and perhaps siblings around in a quiet house, and doing work at school with 20 classmates making noise and doing work at the same time. It is understandable that children are more easily distracted at school.
Ask your son's teacher to help you try a positive behavior plan with your son. The teacher can send you a daily note -- as simple as a smiley face or a check mark -- to let you know how well he worked that day, then follow up at home. A good day can earn an extra bedtime story or a walk around the block just with you; two or three good days in a week can earn having a friend over to play on the weekend. You can increase the good work required to earn a reward as his behavior improves. The key to any system like this is to reinforce the good work consistently and over a long period of time.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.