“You just need to ask for help…”

How many times have we said this to kids?  Students are feeling stuck, falling behind, and discouraged, and we say, “Oh Johnny – you didn’t ask for help… you just need to ask for help and I would be happy to help you!” Obviously, we mean well.  The problem is, as is often the case, we’re assuming far too much.  We’re assuming the student has the skills to identify what he/she doesn’t know and we’re assuming that the student has the skills to actually ask for help (a multiple skill process in itself).   This is often a skill deficit and, like anything else, children need to be taught.  Even if the student has an emotional barrier to asking for help, he/she still needs to overcome that barrier with a new skill.

There could be any number of reasons a student is not asking for help:

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  • He doesn’t want to look stupid.
  • She finds adults intimidating.
  • He finds the assignment overwhelming.
  • Her mind is on a home stressor.
  • He doesn’t know what to ask.
  • She doesn’t know how to ask.

All students benefit from being taught self-advocacy skills.  Taking 5-10 minutes to teach your class how to ask for help will go a long way to help all students feel more comfortable and empowered to advocate for their own needs.  Some students need additional teaching and individual attention to learn this skill.  Asking for help is a skill that all students need not only throughout their education but throughout all of life.

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Social narratives such as those shown above and left walk students through the process of asking for help from start to finish. These can also be used for classroom presentations shown on a smartboard or projector.  Click on the images for more information. 

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