For a teen, there is nothing worse than violating a social rule that everybody else knows and therefore becoming the butt of jokes and ridicule. Recovery, at least at that moment, for the teen seems impossible and the teen is sure that everybody is going to hate them.
Hidden curriculum can wreck havoc with self esteem and motivation especially with teens. There are lots of social rules that are rarely expressed but always enforced and it is your knowledge and compliance with these unwritten rules that determines your level of social acceptance. For many of the children we work with as advocates, this hidden curriculum can be rather daunting as they try to fit in and participate in various social situations. As children make their way from the elementary grades to middle and high school the buildings get bigger, the crowds get larger, and inference gets more and more pervasive. All of which can make discovering that hidden curriculum more difficult.
There are unwritten rules and patterns that represent the environmental culture of every school, mall, and neighborhood. It is important that parents and school personnel work together to inform the child of as much of this hidden curriculum as possible before the need arises. Some of the key phrases that indicate that hidden curriculum is in play would be “You should know…”, “Everyone knows that…”, “That is common sense”
The following are some things that the student should be comfortable with before they start school in a new building.
There was a national survey of Special Education Teachers that asked what are the most important skills to master before graduation with the following results:
Listening Skills Hidden Curriculum
Following Directions Hidden Curriculum
Be ON Task Hidden Curriculum
How to get help Hidden Curriculum
How to get started Hidden Curriculum
Finish in Time Hidden Curriculum
Word Attack Academic Curriculum
For most teens, the bottom line is to avoid embarrassment at all costs. Embarrassment occurs when you do not know the unwritten rules. The more informed the student is the easier it is to save face. Structure (rules) and consistency can be as important as oxygen for some of our students. So, let them in on the culture of the school and give them a fighting chance to fit in and participate.
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Marie Lewis is an author, consultant, and national speaker on best practices in education advocacy. She is a parent of 3 children and a Disability Case Manager, Board Certified Education Advocate, and Behavior Specialist Consultant. She has assisted in the development of thousands of IEPs nationally and consults on developing appropriately individualized IEPs that are outcome-based vs legally sufficient. She brings a great depth of expertise, practical experience, and compassion to her work as well as expert insight, vision, and systemic thinking. She is passionate and funny and she always inspires and informs.
MJ Gore has an MEd in counseling and a degree in elementary education and natural sciences. She worked as a life-skills and learning support teacher She has been honored with the receipt of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. She is the Director and on the faculty at the National Special Education Advocacy Institute. Her passion is social justice, especially in the area of education. She is a Board Certified Education Advocate who teaches professional advocates, educators, and clinicians the best practices in education advocacy.
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