Helping Children Resolve Problems
September 25, 2002
I have several things I do to encourage children to ask for help and resolve their own problems. These strategies allow me to give them my undivided attention at a time of my choosing and cut down on the number of children who demand attention during times of transition.
- I have a cartoon character called Mr. Mouse who is like our “Dear Abby.” His picture is posted on a bulletin board. Students can take a piece of Mr. Mouse notepaper and write a private note to him asking for advice. The note is put in Mr. Mouse’s mailbox, and the reply is later left taped to the child’s desk. The children love getting a note from the mysterious Mr. Mouse. They are reminded that Mr. Mouse is quite busy helping children and that, although he loves to get friendly mail from children, they should write just when they really need advice.
- I also have communication notebooks. I label 3-ring binders with numbers that correspond to each child; the binders can be re-used each year after the used pages are removed. Students use these communication notebooks to write messages directly to me when they have a conflict with which they need help. I meet with them later to talk to them about the problem.
- When a problem tends to keep resurfacing, I start a dialog sheet. The children involved in the problem carry on a conversation on paper. This paper continues to be passed around the room. I let the children do most of the talking, and when they need input or redirection, I record my own ideas on the paper. This process really gets them talking to each other, and each child must listen to the others, and be listened to, without interruptions.