Natural child whisperers LISTEN to children and know how to kid-watch.
Everyone can learn this- it just requires us to shut down our internal chatter for a while and just observe and listen deeply.
When we listen like this something different is happening. It is not just our ears working- our eyes, hearts and brains are all working to help us UNDERSTAND and you cannot do this at speed.
The problem is that often we think we know what children need and so often we are wrong.
One of the best questions I ever ask children is, “What do you think you need? Are we helping you? Is there anything else we could do?”
I have had some surprising and very perceptive answers. Children (if allowed to speak for themselves and not rushed) have a pretty clear idea of how they learn and what is helpful in terms of teaching input.
This also works for behavioural issues.
”What would help you to stop getting in to trouble like this? What do you need?”
Then let them take their time, draw their responses, think for a while, even make a time to chat on a different day to allow them to think deeply.
No child wants to be in constant trouble, excluded from class, shamed and embarrassed. Give them the chance to delve deeply and come up with their own solution. That sometimes involved throwing out preconceived notions and that can be hard.
The more we are sure we are right- the more we’re not!
Try it today. Don’t be on the lookout for bad behaviour. We’re not prison warders. Be on the lookout for good behaviour and reward it- every time! Wrap your pre-conceived notions up and stick them in the bottom drawer. Clear your mind and LISTEN!
All teachers and parents should be grateful for the Greek philosopher, Epictetus who reminded us we have 2 ears but only one mouth. The equation is very clear.
LISTEN twice as much as you speak.