Make your classroom a tattle-free zone

teacher1My students don’t tattle.  They just don’t.

At the beginning of the year, my students tattle at the appropriate level for their developmental stage.  However, instances of tattling quickly slip to almost zero.

Easy steps to stop tattling in the classroom:

  1. Teach students that unless it involves safety, it’s probably tattling.  It’s important to establish the difference between tattling and a legitimate report of an urgent matter.
  2. Explain to the class that you are actually pretty smart and will notice most instances of wrongdoing without being informed through tattling.
  3. Tell students that you expect them to focus on learning, not tattling.  If a student tattles, assign extra learning opportunities to make up for time spent tattling.  A good learning opportunity might be using the dictionary to define tattling, then using the word in a sentence.
  4. Do not allow comments that begin with another child’s name.  Not only does this cut down on tattling, it forces children to use more sophisticated sentence structure.
  5. Teach your students that by not tattling, they become more loyal to each other.  Would your students like to be in a classroom full of spies?  No?  Well, that’s what happens if they all tattle on each other.  Everyone becomes an informant.
  6. If a child tells on another student, assign the tattlee an appropriate sentence to write, such as “I will not throw paper airplanes.”  Then, have the tattler write “I will not tattle.”
  7. Do not allow children to tattle after recess.  Explain to students that what happens at recess does not belong in the classroom.  Tell your students to let the recess monitor deal with recess-related tattling issues.  Suggest that students use recess time wisely: get away from the offending student and do something fun instead.

Don’t worry: your students will tell you what you really need to know.  You won’t miss out on important information about bullying or safety problems.  You will simply gain more teaching time and a better classroom climate.

More tips for stopping classroom tattling

Information for parents dealing with tattling at home

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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Oct 10, 2016


Offer a choice of two

I learned the “offer a choice of two” tip from a mom volunteer, who smoothly distributed about 5 flavors of popsicles with all students feeling like they had a choice in the treat they were given.  I realized that offering a choice of 2 has many classroom management applications:

— It speeds up questioning that’s intended to keep the lesson going, not spark deep thought.  “Should we put the apostrophe before or after the s?” instead of “Where should we put the apostrophe?”

— It gives students options without overwhelming them with choices: “Would you like to use markers or crayons?” instead of “What would you like to color with?”

— It offers students a pseudo-choice: “Would you like to calm down and do the activity with us, or refocus in another classroom?” instead of “Shape up or ship out.”  (also a choice of 2, actually)

— It teaches kids to make a decision, then stick with it.  Most decisions in life are not worth over-thinking.  Your mom’s birthday card will look good whether you use red paper or pink.  Just pick one!

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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Apr 18, 2016


I’m Through! What Can I Do?

This workbook series by Creative Teaching Press helps you answer the age-old classroom management problem: kids finish work at different rates, and idle kids are naughty kids.

Each activity book is filled with thinking and learning tasks that challenge students’ reading, writing, math, and problem-solving skills. The worksheets take students the perfect amount of time: not so short that it was a waste of paper, not so long that frustration builds.

I use the I’m Through! What Can I Do! books for my Emergency Sub Plans. They are a great source of fun activities to keep kids engaged in my absence. The worksheets also make good challenges for daily classroom life.

A few ideas for using the activity books:

Put copies of the worksheets into page protectors and let kids do the worksheets with dry-erase marker or crayon. (Crayon rubs off many sheet protectors.)

Designate an area of the classroom for the Fast Finisher activity of the day.

Make things easier on yourself by not promising a daily Fast Finisher activity: set them out whenever you remember to copy a few.

Have a supply of class sets of Fast Finisher worksheets for when the class just doesn’t want to do traditional schoolwork. The half hour between a schoolwide assembly and the dismissal bell is a perfect time.

Level the Fast Finisher worksheets by using activities from books below, at and above grade level.

As you can see, there are many “I’m Through” titles to choose from.

More I’m Through, What Can I Do?, Grade 1
More I’m Through, What Can I Do?, Grade 2
More Im Through What Can I Do Grade 3
More I’m through, can do? Grade 4
Im Through What Can I -Grade 3-4 (Learning Works)
More I’m Through, What Can I Do?, Grade 5
Im Through What Can I -Grade 5-6 (Learning Works)
Learning Works I’m Through, What Can I Do? – Grade 5-8
More I’m Through! What Can I Do?, Grade 6

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Posted in Book Lists,Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Nov 8, 2012


Mix It Up At Lunch Day: October 30

Encourage your students to make new friends and celebrate diversity with a simple lunchtime program.  October 30 marks the Tenth Anniversary of Mix It Up At Lunch Day.  The initiative was developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program.  Join the 2,500 schools planning to mark the day!

In Teaching Tolerance surveys, students identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn.  Mix It Up At Lunch Day encourages students to break out of their usual groups and get to know other kids.  That’s all there is to it!

The simple act of breaking bread with other students can have profound implications.  Many differences can seem not-so-different if people only have contact with a group they consider “other.”  Suddenly, the individuals inside the group become just what they are—individuals.  Experience is a powerful educator.

SPLC offers many resources for schools looking to make a big deal out of Mix It Up At Lunch Day.  Click here for tips on how to seat students.  A few simple ideas:

  • Publicize Mix It Up At Lunch Day with free tools ranging from clip art for posters to press releases.
  • Set up a faculty committee (don’t worry, this is easy!) that can follow the Six Key Steps for a successful event.
  • Rearrange the tables in the cafeteria—students’ visual reminder that today is different.
  • Use tickets, buttons, paper slips—anything—to randomly mix students.
  • At tables, have discussion prompts written on boards or sheets to help students make conversation.
  • Teaching Tolerance has suggested Mix It Up At Lunch activities for all grades K-12.  You can use the activities outside Mix It Up At Lunch Day, as well.

Happy Mix It Up At Lunch Day!

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Posted in Classroom Management,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Oct 25, 2012


Giving directions to the whole class

Here is a simple, effective way to involve the whole class in the directions you give—and make sure the kids understand the directions!

I call it “Hands on your head.  Repeat after me.”

Give this command as you place your own hands on your head.  Elementary-age students will happily follow suit (if you have the right spirit and your heart is pure.)

Now you have the attention of the class, and no one is messing around.

Give your directions, one sentence or phrase at a time.  Have the students repeat each component.

Because the students repeat the directions, you know they understand you.  Because the students’ hands are on their heads, you know they were not distracted by other things.

Here is an example:

“Hands on your head.  Repeat after me.”

“Hands on your head.  Repeat after me.”

 “In just a moment, it will be time for library.”

“In just a moment, it will be time for library.”

“Before we leave, we will turn in our seatwork.”

“Before we leave, we will turn in our seatwork.”

 “…to our boxes.”

“…to our boxes.”

 “Then, we will gather our library books.”

“Then, we will gather our library books.”

 “…and our library cards.”

“…and our library cards.”

“We’ll help each other out by checking to see if our neighbor remembered both books and card.”

“We’ll help each other out by checking to see if our neighbor remembered both books and card.”

“Hands down. ” (Lower your hands and watch the class follow suit. )

“GO!” or  “BEGIN!” or “GET TO WORK!” (you get the idea…)

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Posted in Classroom Management,First Year Teachers by Corey Green @ May 1, 2012


Kids and Glasses Part Two: Common Pitfalls for Students New to Wearing Glasses

Teasing and glasses envy: New glasses wearers worry about peer pressure and teasing, but in my experience, this rarely happens in elementary school.  Rather, I find that other students catch a bad case of glasses envy.  They borrow the glasses of the “lucky” nearsighted students and wear their dad’s old geek glasses to school.  They even buy glasses accessories in stores like Claire’s at the mall.

Destruction: Once kids have their glasses, they often destroy them the first week (or day) out.  Glasses tend to cause headaches until the wearer is used to them, so kids set their glasses down anywhere.  My family still talks about the first day I got glasses (in 3rd grade!) and for some reason I set my glasses on the floor.  My big brother accidentally stepped on them.

Glasses that go missing: Students lose glasses all the time.  Many students need glasses, but their eyes aren’t really bad yet, so they only use them for certain tasks.  This means the student is always setting the glasses down somewhere.  Consequently, glasses get left in the computer lab, lunchroom, gym, library, or school bus.  If a child is missing glasses, send the student and a buddy to check the lost and found and whatever special you had the day they went missing.  Then check the main office.  Before you officially declare the glasses MIA, offer the whole class a chance to find them.

“Forgetting” to wear glasses: Some kids just don’t take to glasses, and they start “forgetting” to bring them to school (or home).  Give it a shot and remind the child for a day or three, but I strongly recommend that you make no promises to the parents about reminding the child to wear his glasses.  You don’t want the onus of a stubborn child’s glasses-avoidance issues on you.

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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Oct 18, 2011


Virtual Book Tour: Parenting Responsively for Connection, Day 14

E-BookToday I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 14 of the Virtual Book Tour for the new E-Book Parenting Responsively for Connection, available from, written by ACPI Parenting Coaches for Parents to deal with the most difficult task of maintaining connection with the growing child whose behavior changes and shifts.  

Yesterday, the book tour visited Sherri Boles-Rogers at Visit now if you haven’t had the opportunity to meet all the authors.  Tomorrow’s tour will be the final blog (Day 15) with Irish Barbour at

In the meantime enjoy the following book excerpt as well as this podcast
featuring author Adina Lederer, Certified Coach for Parents & Families.
Excerpt © 2011 by Adina Lederer

Managing Transitions

      With the school year comes a season of new transitions. Getting off to school, getting into school, leaving school, going to activities, leaving activities and coming home from school can make morning, afternoons and evenings a stressful time for both parents and children.

     On any one morning, if the bus or carpool is running late, the domino effect can create a logistical nightmare for a working mom or dad.

     Fortunately, with a little organization, a back-up plan or two and realistic expectations, we can successfully navigate transition times and prevent bumps in the road from becoming major mountains.

     If we want to establish a healthy, productive rhythm and balance in our lives and maintain close connections and deep bonds with our spouse and children, we need effective strategies that provide strength for us all.

     Effective strategies can help us all successfully navigate transition times, manage household chaos and prevent us from becoming disconnected when our world around us seems to be spinning out of control.

     While fairly simple to implement, these 10 strategies can help everyone manage their responsibilities effectively and cut down on the chaos that tends to surround transitions.

  1. Do what you can the night before.  Prepare lunches, snacks, backpacks, children’s clothing and more.
  2. Allow children to be involved in the preparation process.  When children are involved they become vested in the outcome.
  3. Create menus for lunches and dinners in advance.  Make shopping lists, go to the store and prep as much as you can over the weekend.
  4. Develop schedules for the morning, afternoon and evening.  This includes setting aside time for homework, meals and playtime.
  5. Set homework schedules.  Create a schedule for children based on their age and capabilities. If a child needs breaks in between their homework schedule, budget time for those as well.
  6. Provide healthy snacks throughout the day.
  7. Create a work environment that is conducive to completing homework.  A bright, quiet designated area with supplies readily available works well.
  8. Make time for dinner.  Children enjoy family mealtime and children who eat meals regularly with their families are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
  9. Establish nighttime rituals.  A nightly routine that includes a bath and time for reading and talking creates connection and a sense of security.
  10. Set alarm clocks.  Waking up the same time each day can help promote consistency and routine.  Be sure to give everyone enough time to get ready in the morning. Wake up 30 minutes before your children to you can take care of your own needs before they awake.

      Throughout my many years of parenting, teaching and coaching, I have learned that with a plan, structure, consistent effort and an understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, we can develop tools that strengthen our lives and allow us to live with more peace and balance.

Don’t miss this podcast featuring author Adina Lederer, Certified Coach for Parents & Families.

Be sure to follow the Virtual Book Tour for the E-book Parenting Responsively for Connection tomorrow for the final blog (Day 15) with Irish Barbour at  For further information on this E-book and the others in the Heartwise Parenting Series, please visit

Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Jun 20, 2011


Virtual Book Tour: Parenting Responsively for Connection

E-BookI am pleased to announce I will be hosting a virtual book tour for the new E-Book, Parenting Responsively for Connection.

The E-book contains down-to-earth and easy-to-apply strategies for staying connected to your children as they grow from their early years into the school years.  You’ll learn how to cope with issues from potty training to developing successful study skills. 

Eleven ACPI Certified Parenting Coaches have joined together to bring you the best of their accumulated knowledge and 110+ years of parenting experiences.  You’ll appreciate each author’s sincerity and realism in each chapter of the book.  This is a must-read!  You’ll find out why when you read the excerpts from each chapter as the virtual tour unfolds.  The first excerpt will appear on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at, when the official virtual book tour begins.

Can’t wait?  Order the E-Book now!

List of Authors:

Sherri Boles-Rogers, ACPI CPC
Alan Carson, M.Ed., ACPI CPC
Lesa Day, ACPI CPC
Sharon Egan, MS, ACPI CPC
Marcia Hall, CPN, ACPI CPC
Kareen Hannon, ACPI CPC
Adina Lederer, ACPI CCPF
Malini Mandal, OT, ACPI CCP
Sedef Orsel, ACPI CCP
Minette Riordan, Ph.D., ACPI CCP
Jennie Tehomilic, ACPI CPC

Follow the journey of this Virtual Book Tour:

6-08-11 – Day 1 –
6-09-11 – Day 2 –
6-10-11 – Day 3 –
6-11-11 – Day 4 –
6-12-11 – Day 5 –
6-13-11 – Day 6 –
6-14-11 – Day 7 –, (English)  or (Turkish)
6-15-11 – Day 8 –
6-16-11 – Day 9 –
6-17-11 – Day 10 – – (Turkish)
6-18-11 – Day 11 –
6-19-11 – Day 12 –
6-20-11-  Day 13 –
6-21-11 – Day 14 – (my blog)
6-22-11 – Day 15 –

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Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Jun 5, 2011


Fun with Whatever

This is a quick tip, but a good one.  One day, as a joke, I sarcastically used the term “Fun with Long Division” to describe the rather dry lesson we were about to do for the next hour.  Once I started, I couldn’t stop.  Now, my students and I refer to many lessons as “Fun with [whatever.]”  The more mundane the lesson, the more fun the title.  “Fun with Apostrophes” was a real winner.

The weird thing is that this really does make the lesson more fun.  There are several reasons:

  1.  We work a little harder to make the lesson live up to its ambitious yet ironic title.
  2. Seeing the word “fun” on the board tricks our subconscious minds into having just a little fun.
  3. Misery loves company, and if we all acknowledge that apostrophes aren’t the most exciting thing EVER! then we bond as we help each other make it through the lesson.
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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ May 18, 2011


Squirt Procedure

Hand washing is an important way to stop the spread of germs, but organizing 30 children to wash up before lunch is a nightmare.  It takes forever and it’s messy.  The sink area would be flooded, I swear!

Our class has developed a quick-and-easy hand sanitizer procedure that I hope will help your class.

We form two number-order lines: students 1-14 and 15-30.  Two students are assigned the job of squirting.  We never vary who does the job.  (See my post for an explanation of the efficiency of assigning yearlong jobs.)

One squirter takes one line; the second squirter takes the other.  The students hold out their hands to receive the squirt.  We are all washed up in about 30 seconds, or the time it takes to sing one of my multiplication songs.  (See my post for advice on singing during transitions.)

I don’t have actual data, but I have noticed that my class doesn’t have plagues of flu and strep throat the way other classes seem to.  We haven’t had one of those weeks where half the class is absent.  (Knock on wood.)

I attribute it to our hand washing procedure.  I hope it works for you!

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Posted in Classroom Management,Food,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 11, 2011


Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14

Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14By Chip Wood
Available from

In an easy-to-read format, Yardsticks helps you understand the characteristics and concerns of children at each age from 4-14.

Why are six-year-olds exuberant and seven-year-olds perfectionists?  How should a teacher cope with a third grader’s boundless enthusiasm and limited attention span?  How do parents help thirteen-year-olds build self confidence and personal identity?

Yardsticks is one of the most helpful teaching books I own.  I refer to it often—especially if I am teaching a new grade level.  Children face different concerns at different ages, and Yardsticks helps the adults in their lives guide them.

Yardsticks doesn’t give you a perfect description of every child at every age: it’s a yardstick.  A general measure that is helpful in looking at the personality of your class as a whole.

I recommend Yardsticks for parents, teachers, counselors, social workers, and education majors.

I also recommend Yardsticks to children’s book writers.  Yardsticks will help you identify typical personality traits and characteristics for your characters.  Your story will be more authentic when you anchor school scenes with the truths you learned from Yardsticks.

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Posted in Book Reviews,Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jun 24, 2010


Watching TV to build reading skills

Watching TVParents, there is a simple way to turn TV time into reading time!

While nothing is better than reading a book, watching TV does not have to be a reading dead zone.  If you enable closed captioning, you can help your child read more fluently.

Closed captioning was designed to aid the deaf or hard of hearing.  Closed captioning converts dialogue, narration and sound effects into text at the bottom of the screen.  The effect is similar to subtitles in movies.  Closed captioning is available on most TV shows.  It will be marked in the TV Guide with a CC.  You can enable closed captioning with a button on your remote control.  Most DVDs offer closed captioning—select it from the menu.

Proponents of closed captioning often point to Finland, where children watch as much TV as American children, but score much higher on reading tests.  Finnish children’s favorite shows are often in English, so children must read the Finnish translations at the bottom of the screen while watching the show.  This helps make children better readers.

When your children watch TV, turned the closed captioning on.  You can leave the sound on or off.  Children do not tune out closed captioning and have no choice but to notice it.  Like it or not, children will absorb the connection between the written and spoken word.

Sing-along song DVDs are a fun spin-off of the closed captioning concept.  The best-known Sing-along Songs are produced by Disney.  These programs show popular Disney songs from movies, with the words at the bottom of the screen.  Sing-along Songs are even better than closed captioning because a bouncing Mickey (or other icon) shows which word is being sung.

Options abound: Disney has the most—too many to list! Disney appeals to the widest audience because younger children enjoy the music, and older children enjoy revisiting favorite Disney movies.  Sesame Street and Kidsongs are good for preschoolers through first grade.

To read more about closed captioning and reading, visit the National Captioning Institute.

Posted in Fun With Literacy,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Mar 19, 2010


Homework isn’t always graded

Teachers try to keep homework assignments reasonable.  Whether the goal is building skills, developing responsibility, or making efficient use of class time, homework helps the child grow.  Most teachers understand how busy families are, and how difficult it can be for working parents to supervise several children’s homework.

Here’s something you might not know about homework: it isn’t always graded for correctness, particularly in the primary grades (K-3).  There are several reasons for this policy, which may be dictated by the teacher, grade level, school or district.

  1. Between kindergarten and third grade, the primary purpose of homework is to build study skills and responsibility.  The emphasis is on building strong work habits, not assessing students on their homework.
  2. Many teachers feel that grades should be based on a child’s performance.  With homework, there is no guarantee that the work is entirely a child’s own.
  3. Not grading homework protects children who do not have strong support at home.   If these children can earn strong grades based on class work, homework should not harm their grades.
  4. Young children don’t understand grades.  They truly don’t realize that the work they do determines their grade.  Thus, grading homework often cannot motivate children in primary grades.
  5. Consequences such as missed recess spent making up homework are more motivating to children than a low grade.  Such consequences reinforce the idea that homework is about responsibility.

What this means for parents: If homework has become a struggle, talk to your child’s teacher.  The teacher may or may not tell you how homework is graded, but you should be able to form an idea of its level of importance.  If you find out that the homework is not graded, do not tell your child.  However, you now have a sense of when to insist that the work be completed accurately and neatly, and when simple completion will suffice.

Homework in grades 4-6:  In the intermediate grades, homework is usually unfinished class work.  It is very important that children complete this homework.  The assignments are designed to solidify new knowledge and practice new skills.  If your child does not do the work, he can expect to fall behind the rest of the class.  In the intermediate grades, homework is generally graded for correctness or completion.  Either way, zeroes and low grades will bring your child’s average down quickly.

If your child has a lot of homework: It often means that he is not working during class time.  Another possibility is that your child finds the work very difficult.  Unless your child has a learning disability, do not accept the “it’s too hard” excuse until your child has spent about a month doing homework in earnest.  Poor study habits likely are the problem.

If your child has no homework: There are two likely scenarios: either your child is so bright that he completes all work at school, or your child simply does not tell you about homework.  The completes-it-all-at-school student has straight As and spends a lot of time reading.  Most other students fall into the second scenario of hiding homework from parents.  Online grading systems like Snapgrades or a quick email to the teacher can uncover this problem.

There is a third, very unlikely scenario: the teacher never assigns homework.  If this were true, the teacher probably would have told you.  It is very unusual for intermediate level teachers not to assign homework.

I hope this helps you understand how teachers approach homework.  Remember, the goal is always to help the child learn.

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Posted in Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Feb 9, 2010


When your child has missing or late work

Missing WOrkWe all have dealt with schoolwork that suddenly has gone missing.  Some children just can’t understand what happened to the paper they were working on; it simply disappeared.  Here are some ideas for parents to help their children locate those mysteriously missing papers:

Your child’s missing assignments are most likely in her desk at school.  You would be amazed how many children begin assignments only to shove them in their desk, never to be seen again.  Some children go so far as to finish the work before shoving it in their desk.  If the task of cleaning out her desk overwhelms your child, help her with ways to deal with the materials in her desk: a box for pencils and scissors, folders for papers, and a sturdy bag to bring home everything else.  I bet you will be surprised at what your child brings home in that bag!

Check your child’s backpack.  This can be a repository of half finished assignments, untouched homework, and letters home about a project assigned a month ago that is due tomorrow.  You may even get lucky and find the work completely finished.  Many children do homework, but forget to turn it in.  For parents of children in primary grades, checking backpacks should be a daily task.  Young children don’t feel their privacy is violated if you check their backpack daily.  A daily backpack check makes your life and your child’s life easier by eliminating last-minute assignment scrambles and other homework headaches.

A good place to look is the no-name pile.  Many teachers simply place papers with no names in a pile so students can retrieve their work, put their name on it, and turn it in for a grade.  (Note to teachers: I find this to be an administrative nightmare.  I collect all work in number order, so when I hit a no-name paper, I know who it belongs to.  I grade the paper, then assign the child to practice writing his name and number fifty times.)

Sometimes, the student will have to do the work again.  Before contacting the teacher to ask for another copy of a worksheet, tell your child look in the extras pile.  Every elementary school teacher I have ever met has an extras pile.   In addition to learning a “life lesson” about handing in the work she has finished, your child can learn a valuable lesson about solving her own problems before asking you or her teacher for help.

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Posted in Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jan 17, 2010


Check the Lost-and-Found before each school vacation

Lost-and-FoundThe school lost-and-found usually holds an amazing collection of sweatshirts, jackets, note books, toys, jewelry, homework, water bottles, lunchboxes… the list goes on.

Chances are, something you purchased for your child resides in the lost-and-found.

In general, elementary schools clear out the lost-and-found before each major vacation.  Most  start by laying everything out on a large area.  The classes troop by,  inspect the goods,  and claim what is theirs.   Students are warned over and over that anything left over will be donated to charity.

There is usually a great deal left over to be bagged and donated to charity.

If your child is missing something, find it before the next school break.   Start by asking your child to check the lost-and-found.   Your child probably won’t find the lost item.   Don’t give up.

Kids lack the patience to sort through the lost-and-found.   I remember spending half an hour digging through the lost-and-found and finally emerging with my little brother’s warm jacket.   My brother stood beside me and complained the whole time.  Then and there, I knew that no child would ever spend that kind of time searching—even for a treasured possession.  Through the years, my students have confirmed my theory.   My students usually spend about ten seconds looking in the lost-and-found and never find anything of their own.

Parents, if you are serious about finding something in the lost-and-found, you will probably have to search for it yourself.   Turnabout is fair play:  consider assigning your child a chore or writing task that takes the same amount of time you spent searching through the lost-and-found.

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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Dec 16, 2009