Early Cues: Keeping Them Engaged

“You know, Mary.  Crying in a baby is a late cue,”  said my sister as I held my adorable (but quivering) niece.  “We missed the early cues that she was hungry:  smacking lips, rooting, hand and leg movement.”   My sister’s insight caused me to pause (this would not be the first, or last time-I am sure of that)!

I know that behavior is communication.  This was framing what I knew in a unique way:  the tantrums and acting out we see in schools so often are  just that:   a late cue.  We missed the early messages, or failed to respond in ways that were effective at the school.

Children who repeatedly find themselves in the office for disciplinary issues, often, are trying to communicate something to the adults in their environment:  the work is too hard; my life is too chaotic; I’ve not a trusting relationship in any environment that urges me to stay engaged in the classroom.  There are limits to our ability to impact this, but we must never stop trying.

Essentially, this is an issue related to engagement.  We want them to be meaningfully engaged with

  • their learning
  • their teachers
  • their peers
  • their school

Catching the cues early and providing protective supports is vital .   We know the early warning signs.  We know the protective factors.  Most vital are the relationships.

That means us.

“I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing”

Tom Petty





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