The advice: “If you want kids to listen, lower your voice instead of raising it. This forces kids to focus. Whisper, ‘If you can hear me, touch your nose.’ After a little while, everyone does it.”
Try it at home: Need to corral a bunch of six-year-olds at a birthday party? Whisper, “If you want cake, hop on one foot.” Goofy jumping is bound to be contagious.
The advice: “If students don’t like an activity, I pull out my timer and give them exactly one minute to complain. Once the timer dings, it’s time to get to work.”
Melissa Louise Page
Try it at home: You can’t set a timer every time your child starts a sentence with “I don’t wanna.” But allowing one 60-second over-the-top display of whining about feeding the cat could buy you a drama-free afternoon.
The advice: “Kids who don’t write over school breaks lose their sharpness by the time they get back. Encourage them to write at least a sentence every day.”
Try it at home: If you have a reluctant writer, help her out by acting as a pen pal of sorts. Write notes to each other, leaving them on pillows or taped to the bathroom mirror.
The advice: “We have a Desk Fairy who checks the kids’ desks while they are in another class or at recess. She leaves stickers or a prize if their desks are neat. They never know when she’ll show up, so they have to be organized at all times.”
Paramus, New Jersey
Try it at home: Make-Your-Bed Fairy, anyone?
The advice: “To get students to calm down and refocus after lunch, I dim the classroom lights, which does the trick.”
Charleston, South Carolina
Try it at home: Are the kids wired this evening? Try eating dinner by candlelight, or reach for the dimmer switch.
The advice: “Kids are less likely to complain if they feel in control, so I offer them choices where all outcomes are acceptable to me.”
Sara Lynne Schiwal
New York City
Try it at home: Scrambled eggs or cereal? Leggings or jeans? Just make sure there aren’t so many choices that you’re late for school because Miss Picky is still debating.