Monday, March 8, 2010

School Support: Thoughts from Ross Greene, PhD

As a young mom I suffered a mild parenting-book addiction, and one of the better books I read was The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, PhD. Greene's focus is on chronically frustrated, inflexible children and teens, but his approach to behavior issues makes sense for all kinds of kids. While not a central theme of the book, peer support came up in an anecdote from The Explosive Child that stuck with me. During a classroom observation, Greene sees a student he's been working with help a peer with her math. Minutes later she turns around and helps him through a difficult transition, when he becomes upset about switching activities.

I spoke last week with Dr. Greene and asked if he's seen much of this reciprocal support during school visits over the years. "Kids support each other very frequently," he said. "Way more than they tease or bully each other." While it's only a piece of the larger puzzle for kids Greene works with -- who need a specific, strategic approach from parents and teachers -- all kids benefit, he said, when teachers are able to "create a peer culture in which collaborative problem solving is practiced and taught."

The Responsive Classroom and similar frameworks can help leverage kids' natural inclination to help each other into this type of classroom community. And everyone wins.

Dr. Greene's latest book is Lost at School. Learn more about his Collaborative Problem Solving approach at Lives in the Balance.

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