Monday, September 19, 2011

The Attribution Theory

One of the Love and Logic techniques that I have had wild success with Hannah is The Attribution Theory. It is something that is so simple, at first you think it cannot possibly work, but I have found that it does! If you have a student that is just not performing to his/her potential in school, this is a gem that is worth the try!

When your student brings home papers from school, hold up the paper and point to the ones he/she answered or did correctly. (Jim Fay even says to have the student cut all the wrong answers off the papers. I have never actually done that part, and the theory has still worked fine.) Then you ask, "How Come?"

The student then has one of two choices for the answer.
  • I am getting smarter.
  • I am trying harder.
That's it. Then you are done. It really is that simple. What ends up happening is the student begins to attribute the getting smarter or the trying harder with the correct answers or correctly doing his/her work at school.

The other thing Jim Fay says about the wrong answers, because it is our tendency as parents to want to fix that, is that is not our job. It is the teacher's job to work on getting the correct work out of the student, not the parent's, so don't stick your nose into that piece.

With Fred's troubles at school lately, I have really amped this up. Not only am I doing it with papers returned home, but I made him a little sign with it for his desk. One of the troubles he is having at school is lack of interest and then he just doesn't want to do the work. In other words he is bored and just doesn't want to do work that seems boring to him. Some of it is that teaching strategies need to be looked at, which will happen later this week. And some of it is that he just needs to put on his big boy pants and know that this is what happens at school. Not every assignment or activity is going to be the most interesting or fun thing you have ever done in your life, but you still need to sit down, get it done, and listen to your teacher.

I added some pictures to help with inspiration. Next to "How fast can I get this done?" I put a Star Wars picture of Qui Gon Gin and Obi Wan Kenobi with their light sabers out looking like they are going fast. Next to "My job is to be the best student I can be!" I put a picture of a superman type. Although Fred informed me that is not the real superman! But he did say it was close enough!

All of this and extra encouragement seems to be helping with Fred's school disinterest. We have had more good days than bad lately and a lot less whining! (Thank the Lord!) He excitedly tells me that he is getting smarter or trying harder for numerous things. I do it with all of his papers as well as just general behaviors and such. When he says that he did an assignment in class, I even ask and he usually says, while jumping up and down, "I am working harder!"

I know when I started using this with Hannah, she went from sitting and refusing to do her work at the beginning of the year to being a top student by the end of the year in third grade. Her teacher commented at the spring conference that she had never seen a larger turn around in a student in a year. I can only attribute it to The Attribution Theory!

*If you want to read more about The Attribution Theory, it can be found in Hope for the Underachieving Student by Jim Fay of the Love and Logic Institute.

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