Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Family Meetings

Last week I wrote a post about routines families follow that help children stay organized during the school year.  It led me to think about another routine some families and classrooms follow, the family or classroom meeting.

Jane Nelson, Ed.D. shares her ideas about the benefits of a family meeting in Positive Discipline, her classic guide for families.  One way to help children and parents learn effective communication is to have regular family meetings where they have an opportunity on a weekly basis to brainstorm for solutions to problems and to choose the solutions that are respectful to everyone.

When Stacey, my Lets Choose co-founder, and I worked together in a classroom we included meeting time twice a day.  We were working in a self-contained classroom for children with various learning issues but all struggled with aspects of language.  For us meetings were a great time to work on social and behavior skills.  That was where the ideas behind our Choice-A-Quence game originated. 

1.      We wanted to take time to help the students learn the vocabulary of behavior and social skills. 
2.      Another goal was to grow a shared language around social skills and behavior. 
3.      Lastly, we wanted the children to develop an awareness that they are making choices with every action they take; making eye contact, having a sharpened pencil ready at the start of work time or eating an apple.  Every action we do or dont do is a choice that is followed by a consequence. 

To build that awareness in our meetings we created simple line drawings of 
choices the students might make in our classroom both positive and negative, and consequences that could follow.  Everyday we would       
                       play with the cards -

*A game show making pairs of possible choice and consequence pairs,
*Drawing and writing about choices and their consequences, and
*Role-playing were classroom favorites. 

The children learned the vocabulary and made connections about what could happen in a hypothetical non-threatening way.

Stacey and I were pleased at how consistent we were using the language from our cards to talk about real behaviors that were happening in class.   By October children were learning to play with the cards and use them to talk about real choices.

With my family we have a meeting a few times each year to coordinate our calendars a few times a year.  We make sure to plan what we want to happen and leave free time so we are not too busy.  A family with 3 older boys has a weekly meeting to share books they are reading and ideas of what they might be interested in doing when they grow up.  They have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. 

How would your family use meeting time?