Whether you have a child with an exceptionality or not, I am sure you deal with arguments and fighting on a weekly, if not daily basis. In light of the new Common Core State Standards that emphasize evidence and argument, here at Beyond Tutoring, we have thought of some ways for your real life arguments to contribute to school work. Whoever said fighting wasn’t productive?
- Establish ground rules for fighting in the house. Since arguments inevitably come up in every family, it is important to establish ground rules in order to keep the fighting and arguing civil and kind. A few rules I can think of is no ad hominem attacks and keep voices down. Again, it’s important for your child to realize it’s about arguing and presenting evidence and not about the person that is their counterpoint.
- Keep the questions coming. Allow your child the opportunity to respond to questions. The Socratic method oftentimes used in law school, has been making a resurgence in English language arts and history classrooms. By allowing your students to grow accustomed to this kind of question in the home, they will be better prepared for their class.
- Allow for the opportunity to present evidence. After you have questioned your child, allow the child to present evidence and exhibits into the argument. Oh, he said he took out the trash today. Allow him to take photos or take a walk to the trash cans to show that they’re clean and free of trash.
- Create a space in which it is understood that fighting or arguing is not unloving. Just because you argue, present evidence and have a spirited discussion does not mean you have an unloving family. I have often remarked that my father is one of 11 children, as is my grandfather. Our family is full of spirited debates and evidence, but we are very loving and kind.
- Keep things cool. One of the ways you keep things loving and kind, is to speak in enthusiastic but calm voices. One quick tip is to establish a word when things get too heated, like hot. If you find your child getting too heated, take a breath and regroup.
- Set a time limit. Fighting is not Monopoly, it does not go on forever. Set the kitchen timer and say we will be discussing this using evidence and well honed argument for the next 10 minutes. Stay firm on your time limit.
- Ask follow up questions to relate this to school. It’s like in the example above, you were discussing whether or not your child felt he fulfilled his obligations by taking out the trash, and you have discussed it using evidence in a kind and calm way. This is the perfect opportunity to relate this argument back to the assignments that your student is doing for homework. Start to relate argument and questioning with school work. After arguing about the trash, set the kitchen timer again for a five minute discussion about school and how one uses evidence to support argument in humanities class rooms. If your child gets upset, simply install a rule that this is the toll one pays for arguing.
- Encourage questions from your child. Questioning does not go one way. It is important that your child critically examines your words and dictates. A questioning child is more critically engaged and thoughtful child.
- End with a hug. No matter what happens during the 20 minutes, end with a hug and love you!
- After the hug, discuss what happened and how the argument and demeanor can be improved. This argument system, which also incidentally improve schoolwork and critical engagement, may not work on the first go. Have a discussion with your child on how this could’ve gone better and reflect. This tool is Rod but can be tweaked to work in any family.
With enriching arguments like these, your student will be ready for the debate team or the board room. Again with the Common Core State Standards’s huge emphasis on using evidence and argument and almost every standard, even something as simple as not taking out the trash can be a learning experience both for you and your child. Happy Friday!