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The Lonely Child & The Action Plan

The Lonely Child & The Action Plan

A while back a friend of mine wanted to talk to me about her eldest son “Mark”: a smart, cute, artistic child in Grade 3. She wanted my advice “as a teacher”.

It all started one day when she went to pick him up on the playground. There from her car, she saw him standing alone. She watched for sometime (maybe 5 or 10 minutes). He approached no one … & no one approached him. He didn’t appear to be visibly unhappy — just alone … very alone & unnoticed. This broke her heart.

Later that week – still concerned about what she had seen – she went to speak to her son’s teacher (a good step in the right direction!). Sure enough he told her that Mark presents as “reserved” and often alone. The teacher explained that Mark often preferred to work, eat lunch and spend recess alone. He has tried to encourage him to participate more in the past, to take the initiative, but had very little success. Together they talked about what they might do as a team to address the situation.

For the second time in one week she left her son’s school broken hearted. Although this time she felt a little better in that she had an ally – Mark’s teacher was eager to help!

Now having identified the problem we needed to further develop the plan.

Putting our heads together we came with what we felt seemed like a reasonable approach – for both home & school. We also made a very important pact: We would keep in mind that we had to view the plan as organic, as something flexible and responsive to everyday situations.

& so now time will tell …fingers crossed.

Cheers,
Ally

Our Action Plan:

(A) At Home:

  • Keep a diary of sorts – observe the Mark’s behaviour in order to identify specify areas/situations to be addressed
  • Be patient – don’t overwhelm him.
  • Demonstrate empathy and understanding; talk but don’t push
  • Model/practice social skills. Mum should take advantage of the situation & schedule her own play dates!
  • Ask her school’s librarian for books on friendship***
  • Identify short-term weekly goals: e.g. answering the phone & taking messages
  • Identify long term/monthly goals (e.g. schedule a play date on his “home turf”)
  • Overall: Listen to Mark … and watch over him. Be empathetic & make note of anything of interest. 
  • Continue to be his greatest champion, his advocate.
(B) In Public:
  • Before heading out let Mark in on what’s in store. Set him up for success.
  • As a parent be friendly & confident in stores, doctor’s offices, etc.. Model social engagement.
  • Take advantage of daily routines, e.g. ask Mark to pay for things at the cash, to ask for directions, the time, etc.)
  • Since Mark is artistic, enroll him in an after school arts program where he can feel a little more comfortable and shine
(C) At School: We asked Mark’s teacher to:
  • Keep a diary of sorts – to observe Mark’s behaviour in order to identify specify areas/situations to be addressed        
  • Find a mentor for Mark at school
  • Based on what he sees at school, Mark’s teacher should let his mum know who he feels would be a great child for Mark to have a play date with
  • Find special jobs for Mark during the in order to keep him active & engaged
  • Monitor group work carefully so as to ensure that Mark is engaged – identify specific areas of strength & weakness (build on strengths & address needs)
  • Encourage Mark to join a school club (e.g. he’s a talented artist & so we will approach the art teacher about joining the lunchtime Art Club)
  • Teachers (all of Mark’s teachers) should continue to work in partnership with his parents in order to set short & long term goals, as well as monitor his progress



***I have included some books on friendship from a previous post:
Reading List: Books to read with your child:

  • Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride by Pam Muno
  • Best Friends by Kim Anderson
  • The Different Dragon, Jennifer Bryan
  • Duck at the Door, Jackie Urbanovic
  • A Friend, Anette Bley
  • The Hare With Many Friends, Aesop’s Fable
  • How to be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them by Laurie Krasny Brown [Little, Brown Young Readers, 2001]
  • Katie Loves the Kittens, by John Himmelman
  • The Lonely Little Monster by Andi Green
  • Making New Friends, by Jacqueline H. Blumenstock and David C. Pool
  • My Friend and I, by Lisa Jahn-Clough
  • Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley, Aaron Blabey
  • Penguin, Polly Dunbar
  • Rainstorm, Barbara Lehman
  • Regards To The Man In The Moon, Ezra Jack Keats
  • This is Our House, Michael Rosen
  • Wemberly Worried, Kevin Henkes
  • What are Friends For, Sally Grindley
  • When Giants Come to Play, Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes