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Structured Choice: The Precursor to Responsible Decision Making

Structured Choice: The Precursor to Responsible Decision Making

Like any skill, to learn it best responsible decision-making must be regularly practiced. If a child wants to learn to read they can listen to books, learn about books and watch others read. If a child wants to ride a bike they can read about bikes, watch others ride bikes and watch videos about bikes. However, it is only when they get on the bike and try to ride it or pick up the books to read them that they will begin to develop the target skill.

As with anything children need to learn, with responsible decision-making practice makes perfect. Like other skills, failure typically precedes success. In the classroom teachers must give students opportunities not only to learn about making good decisions but also to practice making them. Teachers must give students the opportunity to make decisions and the guidance to learn from their mistakes.

The traditional structure of an American classroom does not naturally lend itself to opportunities for responsible decision-making. Many decisions are made for children, from assignments to schedules. Creating structured choices on a daily basis creates an environment where children can learn to make responsible decisions. Some examples of simple structured choices include giving students choices at lunch or a choice of which activity to use to practice a particular skill. Many times teachers have literacy based centers or in-class rotations. This provides an opportunity to introduce choice in a simple way. Structures such as The Daily Five provide students with a menu of options to choose from, while still giving the teacher enough control to guide students’ learning in line with the curriculum.

Giving a child a sense of control over their learning builds confidence in them that will aid in future decision-making. When a child is struggling to make appropriate choices the teacher should then meet with the child and guide them in making better choices. Continued conversations about choices and their consequences can help children develop their decision-making skills. Our toolkits can help teachers and schools implement structures that work for them to teach students the skills they need to become great decision makers. Contact us for more information today.

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