“Lighting the Way”
A Parenting Workshop
With Renee Mattson of Child in Bloom
Renee is a master teacher, professor and coach in the field of education. She has worked with hundreds of families, toddlers to teens for the past 6 years and has been in the field of education for over 20 years. She brings her workshop back again this summer. Below is her first article she will be writing each month for our website and for our OLL email newsletter. To receive our email newsletter call the office and leave your email address with Betsy 513.531.6279.
It was the summer of 1995; I had just graduated from Xavier University, and my first teaching job was about to begin at St. Thomas Catholic School, in Northern Kentucky. The nun who was my principal was excited to hire the school’s first special educator so that they could finally welcome all learners and I could support these children. I was excited and busy designing my resource room class setting and deciding on my class expectations. I was visiting my parents and stumbled on an article in Better Homes and Garden that was written by John Rosemond. It was called Raising Good Citizens and it struck me as the perfect behavior plan to support my little learners as they visited my classroom.
Little did I know that working within the framework of this article would stick with me through my 25 years in education and serve as a cornerstone in the parenting of my own three children. It was easy in a Catholic School setting to encourage the three R’s. These three concepts aligned neatly with the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and everything that my students were learning in their homeroom religion classes and mass. I even designed my entry bulletin board with the three words posted at eye level so everyone could see . I soon found out that posting the rules was not enough. I had missed the crucial step that John Rosemonds had mentioned in his article: TEACH TEACH TEACH. Just like I was teaching the students how to read from right to left, how to form a cursive letter j or how to count to 100 I was also in charge of teaching them the components of good citizenship. I couldn’t assume they knew what these words meant in their everyday lives.
Recently, I have been working with parents and future teachers helping with best practices when raising and teaching children. Moving beyond just TEACH TEACH TEACH I have taken John Rosemond’s framework a little further including these three other action oriented steps:
MODEL MODEL MODEL
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE
NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE
As parents and educators we cannot just post the rules or even lecture on them one at a time and expect our children to follow them. We have to take the time to TEACH (outside the moment) MODEL (without lecturing and using more drawings, posters, videos or opportunities to see it as well as hear about it), and allow time to PRACTICE small bits of planned progress building that are purposefully placed so that the child gets to use those skills as much as possible. Then because I would have to be present in the smallest moments, I also took the time to NOTICE the children in their smallest bits of progress and spent more energy focusing on the positive than I focused on the negative.
All this work allowed me chances to teach children to be respectful and responsible by being purposefully present in the moment and by modeling through an attitude of gratitude (catching the smallest bits of progress and thanking them for their good choice making). I also grew in my openness to forgiveness; allowing for a chance to do better next time, and constantly helping them learn about and see The Golden Rule in action. They began to trust me and felt safe in the rules knowing that they were taught on purpose and followed through with fidelity. All these things were easy to tie back to our Catholic Faith as I tried to get my students to see I valued them, respected them and genuinely wanted to see them do better by the day.
Now, 25 years later I have read and written many articles about behavior. I have grown in my Catholic Faith and increased the years of experience I have as a parent and teacher. I continue to tweak my approach and expectations when I see that kids are not able to follow the rule, and I remember that if they flail or fail it might because I didn’t spend enough time teaching, modeling, practicing and noticing the expected behaviors.