Blogging A-Z: G is for goofiness. We all need some goofiness every day, especially in school. My favorite teachers have always been those who can laugh at themselves and with kids. Most classes have some kids who are naturally goofy, which makes it easier to let goofiness out of the bag, at least for a moment. Then there are those serendipitous events which allow everyone to giggle and relax. And there are times when a teacher must contrive a goofy situation in order to survive the day.
Goofiness at school is a social skill worth teaching, although I’ve never met a social skills curriculum in which its included! Goofiness is fairly difficult for some kids, who can’t turn off the goofy switch easily once they get going. But teachers can help kids understand the limits, which are usually determined by the teacher and/or the effect on group dynamics. I think it’s healthy to allow kids to nudge beyond those limits so they can eventually experience the joy of self-control. Goofiness is also a great response to stress. School is a tough place for many special needs kids, and laughter can serve as a release when words don’t come easily.
To demonstrate how SERIOUSLY I take goofiness, I will describe my tutoring sessions with one of the most anxious and rigid kids I’ve seen. When we first started working, he sat like a statue. He did not smile. He was “Mr.Perfect.” A 7-year-old boy who was Mr. Perfect? If he had been at school, with a group of kids, I know it wouldn’t have taken so much effort to elicit goofiness. Anyway, I put on quite a performance of slapstick errors, incongruities, and other temptations. I gave him every opportunity to crack a smile. In desperation, I revised my goal: I needed him to act up. Forget goofiness. I wanted him to misbehave. I mean, where was the real kid who was struggling to follow directions at school? After a long month, Mr. Perfect got frustrated with math and had a tantrum. Woohoo! That was the little crack in his “persona” that I needed. His tantrum was a sure sign that he could benefit from goofiness. He had gone from perfect to crying, with nothing in between. We worked on his repertoire of many skills, including goofiness. Now he’s still very compliant but knows how to have fun, can advocate for himself, and can talk about hard things. Goofiness rules!